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Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XIII - Hull's Campaign against Canada.






Plans of the first Campaign. – Governor Hull opposed to an Invasion of Canada. – His judicious Recommendations. – Hull commissioned a Brigadier General. – Response to Calls for Volunteers. – Organization of Ohio Troops. – Rendezvous of Ohio Volunteers. – A Visit to Colonel John Johnston. – Sketch of his Life. – Visit to the Field of Rendezvous. – Storm and Accident on the Railway. – The Country between Dayton and Sandusky. – Arrival at Sandusky. – Hull takes Command of Ohio Volunteers. – He Addresses the Troops. – Hull’s Troops joined by Regulars. – Honors paid to the latter. – The Army in the Wilderness. – Hull’s March toward Detroit. – Alarming Reports concerning the Indians. – Hull informed of the Declaration of War. – Capture of a Schooner with his Baggage and Papers. – How British Officers in Canada were informed of the Declaration of War. – Hull’s Army at Detroit. – Impatience to invade Canada. – Hull determines to do so. – Detroit in 1812. – Sites of Fortifications at Detroit. – British Works opposite. – Preparations to cross the River. – First Invasion of Canada. – Hull’s Head-quarters. – Hull’s Proclamation to the Canadians. – Effect of Hull’s Proclamation. – A Reconnoissance toward Malden. – Foraging Expedition to the Thames. – Affair on the Ta-ron-tee. – First Battle of the War. – The "Hero of Ta-ron-tee." – Weakness of Fort Malden. – Effects of Delay. – Reconnoissances toward Malden. – Distrust of General Hull. – M‘Arthur in Command. – Skirmishes with the Indians. – First Blood shed in the War. – Michillimackinack. – Pontiac’s Confederacy. – Treachery of the Indians. – A Massacre. – Scenery at Mackinaw. – Fort Mackinaw and its Surroundings. – Military Occupation of the Island. – A coveted Prize. – Expedition against Mackinack. – First Intimation of Danger. – Demand for the Surrender of the Fort. – Surrender of Mackinaw. – The Consequences. – Employment of the Indians by the British.


"Let Feds, Quids, and Demos together unite,
For our country, our laws, and our altars to fight;
While our tars guard the seaboard, our troops line the shore,
Let our enemies face us, we’ll ask for no more.
While our hand grasps the sword well prepared for the fight,
On Washington’s glory we dwell with delight;
His spirit our guide, we can feel no alarms;
While for Freedom we fight, we’re victorious in arms!"


In the plan of the first campaign there was very little complexity. The coast fortifications were to be well garrisoned by the local militia, when necessary, assisted by some regulars. The remainder of the troops, regulars, volunteers, and militia, were to be employed in invading Upper Canada at two points, namely, on the extreme west from Detroit, and on the Niagara frontier from the State of New York. It was believed, as we have seen, that this might be successfully accomplished, and that Canadian sympathy would complete and make permanent the easy conquest. This achieved, a victorious army, in a friendly country, might go down the St. Lawrence to Montreal and Quebec, and liberate the Lower Province from British rule, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (according to the opinions of the more sanguine), sympathizing with the movement, would welcome the invaders, and British rule in North America would cease forever. The Americans, remunerated by their conquests for commercial spoliations, would soon find British statesmen in power ready to do justice to an injured nation. The originators of this campaign seem to have forgotten the costly and disastrous lessons of 1775-’76, when a similar attempt to invade, conquer, and liberate Canada was made, and similar expectations of welcome were indulged.

Governor Hull, of Michigan, was in Washington City during a part of the winter and spring of 1812, while legislative preparations for war were in progress. The invasion of Canada was freely spoken of in official circles, but his voice was heard against it. He knew that the British authorities in that country had sent messengers to all the principal Indian tribes in the Northwest, with arms and presents, exhorting them to become the allies of Great Britain in the event of war. He knew that his Territory was threatened with desolation by these savages, and that, without a fleet on Lake Erie, where the British had full sway, and with the inadequate preparations even for a defense of the Territory which then existed, the idea of a successful invasion of the neighboring province was preposterous. He therefore urged the President to increase the military force in his Territory simply for its defense; and, for the third time, he called attention to the positive necessity of a small American fleet on the lake. 1

President Madison listened to the advice of Hull to some extent. Commander Stewart was ordered to Washington to receive the appointment of agent on Lake Erie, and also orders concerning the building of a fleet on those waters. The President made a requisition upon Governor Meigs, of Ohio, for twelve hundred militia, to be detached, drilled, and prepared to march to Detroit; and he requested Hull to accept the commission of a brigadier general, and take command of them. Hull declined the proposed honor and service, expressing a wish not to engage in military employment. He was finally persuaded to accept the appointment, but with no other object, he said, than to aid in the protection of the inhabitants of Michigan against the savages. He retained his office of governor of the Territory, and returned to the North-west, prepared for any duty in that region, civil or military, to which his government might call him.

Governor Meigs’s call [April 6, 1812.] for troops to assemble at Dayton, at the mouth of the Mad River, on the Great Miami, 2 was heartily responded to. At the close of April, the time appointed for the rendezvous, more than the required number had flocked to the camp. The Indian wars and depredations, which had been instigated by British emissaries, had greatly exasperated the settlers north of the Ohio, and they were anxious to strike an avenging blow. Many of the best citizens sought this opportunity to serve their country, and these were found at the place of rendezvous, enduring all the privations of camp life, without tents or other conveniences, for more than a fortnight. It was the middle of May before blankets and camp equipage arrived from Pittsburg by way of Cincinnati. But the troops had not been idle. They had organized three regiments, and elected their field officers; and when General Hull arrived there on the 25th of May, and took formal command, they were nearly ready for a forward movement. Duncan M‘Arthur was chosen colonel of the First Regiment, and James Denny and William Trimble were elected majors; James Findlay was chosen colonel, and Thomas Moore and Thomas Van Horn majors of the Second Regiment; and the late Lewis Cass, of Detroit, then thirty years of age, was chosen colonel of the Third Regiment, with Robert Morrison and J. R. Munson as majors. The veteran Fourth Regiment of regulars, stationed at Port Vincennes, and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Miller, since the promotion of Boyd, had been ordered to join the militia at Dayton.

Governor Meigs, under the same date [April 6.], ordered Major General Elijah Wadsworth, commanding the fourth division of the Ohio militia, to raise, without delay, three companies of men. Wadsworth obeyed with alacrity, and the requisite number were soon in the field, selected from the brigades of Generals Miller, Beale, Perkins, and Paine, which composed the fourth division. 3

The place of the early rendezvous of the Ohio Volunteers was on the north side of the Mad River, upon a beautiful plain about two miles above Dayton. I visited the spot late in September, 1860, just as the heavy clouds of a cold northeast storm were passing away. We reached the valley of the Great Miami at Hamilton, the site of Fort Hamilton, twenty-five miles above Cincinnati, at twilight, and then traversed that beautiful region, thirty-five miles farther to Dayton, where we arrived at a little past eight o’clock. At an early hour the next morning I started for the place of the gathering of Hull’s army, but a storm, that had begun during the night, was too fierce to allow a comfortable ramble over the fields, so I rode to the pleasant mansion of Colonel Jefferson Patterson, a mile or more from the town, to visit the venerable Colonel John Johnston, who had been in that country as Indian agent, and in the performance of other government business, for more than half a century.

I found him in the apparent enjoyment of all his faculties, mental and physical, although the number of his years was eighty-five. He was over six feet in height, and not at all bent by the burden of years. Under the hospitable roof of Colonel Patterson, his son-in-law, I spent nearly the whole day, and listened, with the greatest satisfaction and profit, to the narration of the venerable pioneer’s long experience in frontier life. He had been well acquainted with most of the leading men in that region, white and red, since the beginning of the century. His residence as Indian agent was mostly with the Shawnoese. He knew Tecumtha and the Prophet well, and had entertained the Little Turtle at his table. He informed me that he was writing a memoir of his Life and Times, and hoped to be spared to complete it. He exhibited every promise of centenary honors in action and speech, but death has since borne him to the grave. 4


It was late in the afternoon when I left Colonel Johnston, and rode to the place of the gathering of the Ohio militia. We crossed the Mad River at Dayton, rode up the turnpike a short distance beyond the toll-gate, and, turning into a road on the right, found the place about half a mile farther in that direction. It is a low prairie, and when I visited it [September 20, 1860.] it was covered with Indian corn, some standing and some of it harvested. The distant trees in the little sketch show the line of the Mad River.

I returned to Dayton in time to take the cars for Sandusky at six o’clock. As we left the station, an immense deep blue-black cloud came rolling up from the west. In a few moments large drops of rain fell with the sound of hail on the car roof. Suddenly a flash of vivid lightning broke from the cloud, and a crashing thunder-peal rolled over the land. A shower of cold rain followed. Before it ceased the sun beamed out brilliantly in the west, and we seemed to be enveloped in a falling flood of glittering gold. Then from many lips in the car were heard the exclamations, "How beautiful! how glorious!" and all eyes were turned eagerly toward the east, where,

"In pomp transcendent, robed in heavenly dyes,
Arch’d the clear rainbow round the orient skies."

Twilight soon followed, and while moving at a moderate speed, near Cross’s Station, eighteen miles above Dayton, a "switch" in wrong position threw our train off the track, but with no other serious effect than producing a detention for three hours in a most dreary place. There was a hamlet of a few houses near, and some of us went out in the chilly night air to search for food and drink. In every house but one nearly all the inmates were sick with fever and ague, and only at the dwelling of a pleasant-spoken and kindly-acting German woman could any thing be procured. There I obtained some fresh bread and milk, and was offered coffee. I laid in stores sufficient for a night’s campaign, hardly expecting to see Springfield, six miles beyond, before morning. We were agreeably disappointed. Through the exertions of the mail agent and others, we were in the enjoyment of comfortable quarters at the "Willis House," in Springfield, before midnight.

The morning dawned brilliantly. The sky was cloudless and the air was cool, and at about eleven o’clock I departed for Sandusky. From Springfield northward the poverty of the soil became more and more apparent, until we reached the high swampy land of the summit near Kenton. The road lay much of the way through forests or recent clearings. About a mile north of Hudsonville Station (six miles south of Kenton) we crossed diagonally the road made by Hull in his march from the Mad River to the Maumee. It was visible on each side, as far as the eye could comprehend it, as a broad avenue through the forest, running from southeast to northwest, now filled with a delicate second growth of timber.

From Kenton 5 to Tiffin, 6 on the Lake Erie slope, a distance of forty miles, the country was newly cleared of the woods most of the way. Few other than log houses were seen. Tiffin is the capital of Hardin County. It is quite a large town, spread over a considerable surface of a gentle eminence on the east bank of the Sandusky River. On the lower ground opposite is the little straggling village of Fort Ball, the site of a stockade of that name, which the Ohio Volunteers erected there during the early part of the war of 1812. It occupied about a third of an acre of ground, and was named in honor of Lieutenant Colonel James V. Ball, commander of a squadron of cavalry under General Harrison, whose exploits will be mentioned in connection with events at Lower Sandusky (now Fremont), nearer the lake. We passed Tiffin and Fort Ball at five o’clock, and reached Sandusky City, on Sandusky Bay, a little after sunset. There I sojourned two or three days at the house of an esteemed kinswoman.

The command of the little army of volunteers near Dayton was surrendered to General Hull by Governor Meigs 7 on the morning of the 25th of May [1812.]. The governor made a stirring speech on the occasion, and congratulated the soldiers on their good fortune in being placed under the command of an experienced officer who had fought for freedom in the War of the Revolution. Colonel Cass also addressed the troops with eloquent words, which were loudly applauded. General Hull then came forward, took formal command, and, in a patriotic speech of some length, he stirred the blood of the volunteers, and made them eager to meet the dusky foe on the distant frontier. "In marching through a wilderness," he said, " memorable for savage barbarity, you will remember the causes by which that barbarity has been heretofore excited. In viewing the ground stained with the blood of your fellow-citizens, it will be impossible to suppress the feelings of indignation. Passing by the ruins of a fortress, 8 erected in our territory by a foreign nation in times of profound peace, and for the express purpose of exciting the savages to hostility, and supplying them with the means of conducting a barbarous war, must remind you of that system of oppression and injustice which that nation has continually practiced, and which the spirit of an indignant people can no longer endure." 9

This speech touched sharply a tender chord of feeling in every bosom, and they gave their general their fullest confidence. Most of them had never seen him before. His manner was pleasing; his general deportment was familiar, yet not undignified; and his gray locks commanded reverence and respect. There were some, who professed to know him well, who doubted the wisdom of the government in choosing him to fill so important a station at a time so critical, yet they generally kept silent, wishing to give him every opportunity to disappoint their expectations, win success for his country, and honors for himself.

On the 1st of June [1812.] the little army commenced its march up the Miami. General Hull had appointed his son, Captain A. F. Hull, and Robert Wallace, Jr., his aids-de-camp; Lieutenant Thomas S. Jesup, of Kentucky, his brigade major; Dr. Abraham Edwards his hospital surgeon; and General James Taylor, of Kentucky, his quartermaster general. 10 He proceeded to Staunton, a small village on the east bank of the Miami, and thence moved on to Urbana, 11 where the volunteers were joined by the Fourth Regiment of regulars under Lieutenant Colonel James Miller, 12 They were met about a mile from the village by Colonels M‘Arthur, Cass, and Findlay, at the head of their respective regiments, by whom they were escorted into camp. They were led under a triumphal arch of evergreens, decked with flowers, surmounted with an eagle, and inscribed with the words, in large letters, "TIPPECANOE – GLORY. 13 On their arrival, General Hull issued an order complimentary to the regulars and congratulatory to the volunteers. "The general is persuaded," he said, "that there will be no other contention in this army but who will most excel in discipline and bravery. . . . The patriots of Ohio, who yield to none in spirit and patriotism, will not be willing to yield to any in discipline and valor."

The troops were now at a frontier town. Between them and Detroit, two hundred miles distant, lay an almost unbroken wilderness, a part of it the broad morasses of the watershed between the Ohio and the lakes, and beyond these the terrible Black Swamp in the present counties of Henry, Wood, and Sandusky. There was no pathway for the army, not even an Indian trail. They were compelled to cut a road, and for this purpose M‘Arthur’s regiment was detached. The difficulties and labors were very great, for heavy timber had to be felled, causeways to be laid across morasses, and bridges to be constructed over considerable streams. They also erected block-houses for the protection of the sick, and of provision trains moving forward with supplies for the army. Industry and perseverance overcame all obstacles, and, on the 16th of June, the road was opened to the scouts at a point in Hardin County, not far from Kenton. Two block-houses were built on the south bank of that stream, stockaded, and the whole work named Fort M‘Arthur. The fortifications did not inclose more than half an acre. There were log huts for the garrison, and log corncribs for the food. It was a post of great danger. Hostile Indians, and especially the warlike Wyandots, filled the forest, and were watching every movement with vigilant eyes and malignant hearts.

The army halted at Fort M‘Arthur on the 19th, and Colonel Findlay was detached with his regiment to continue the road to Blanchard’s Fork of the Au Glaize, a tributary of the Maumee. Three days afterward the whole army followed, excepting a small garrison for Fort M‘Arthur, under Captain Dill, left to keep the post and take care of the sick. Heavy rains now fell, and the little army was placed in a perilous position. They had reached the broad morasses of the summit, and had marched only sixteen miles, when the deep mud impelled them to halt. They could go no farther. The black flies and musquitoes were becoming a terrible scourge. The cattle were placed on short allowance, and preparations were made to transport the baggage and stores on pack-horses. They built a fort, which, in allusion to the circumstances, they called Fort Necessity.

Here Hull was met by two messengers from Detroit – General Robert Lucas and William Denny – whom he had sent from Dayton to that post with dispatches for acting Governor Atwater. Their report was disheartening. General Lucas had been present at a council of the chiefs of several tribes at Brownstown – Ottawas, Ojibwas or Chippewas, Wyandots, and others. All but Walk-in-the-Water, principal chief of the Wyandots, made peaceful professions. The latter spoke many bold and unfriendly words. The British, too, were making hostile manifestations. They had collected a considerable body of Indians at Malden, where they were fed, and armed, and well supplied with blankets and ammunition. Kind and generous treatment made them fast friends of the British, and eager to go out upon the war-path against the Americans. Tecumtha was also wielding his great influence in the same direction; and to Hull and his friends the situation of Detroit, with its weak defenses, seemed, as it really was, in great peril. The danger made him impatient to push forward. At length the rain ceased, the earth became more firm, the army marched under the guidance of Zane, M‘Pherson, and Armstrong (three men well acquainted with wood-craft), and at the end of three days were on Blanchard’s Fork, where Colonel Findlay had erected a stockade fort, which was called by his name. It was about fifty yards square, with a block-house at each corner, and a ditch in front. It was on the southwest side of the stream, where the village of Findlay now stands. The fort stood at the end of the present bridge. 14

At Fort Findlay General Hull received a dispatch [June 24, 1812.] from the War Department directing him to hasten to Detroit, and there await farther orders. It was dated on the morning of the day when war was declared, but contained not a word concerning that measure. 15 This will be mentioned again presently.

Hull ordered all the camp equipage to be left at the fort, and made preparations for an immediate advance. Colonel Cass was sent forward with his regiment to open a road to the Rapids of the Maumee; 16 and a few days afterward the whole army, excepting detachments left in the forts, were encamped upon a plain on the eastern bank of that stream, opposite Wayne’s battle-ground of 1794. There the wearied troops had the first glimpse of civilization since they left Urbana. They were taken across the stream, and marched down its left bank, through a small village at the foot of the Rapids, 17 to a level spot near the ruins of the old British fort Miami, where they encamped.

So wearied and worn were Hull’s beasts of burden when he reached navigable waters connecting with his destination that he resolved to relieve them as much as possible. He accordingly dispatched, from the foot of the Rapids, the schooner Cuyahoga for Detroit with his own baggage and that of most of his officers; also all of the hospital stores, intrenching tools, and a trunk containing his commission, his instructions from the War Department, and complete muster-rolls of the whole army. 18 The wives of three of the officers, Lieutenant Dent, and Lieutenant Goodwin, with thirty soldiers as protectors of the schooner, also embarked in her. A smaller vessel, under the charge of Surgeon’s Mate James Reynolds, was dispatched with the Cuyahoga for the conveyance of the army invalids, and both sailed into Maumee Bay, where Toledo now stands, on the evening of the 1st of July. On the same day the army moved toward Detroit through the beautiful open country, by the way of Frenchtown, on the River Raisin, now the pleasant city of Monroe, in Michigan.

When approaching Frenchtown toward the evening of the 2d [July, 1812.], Hull was overtaken by a courier, sent by the vigilant postmaster at Cleveland, with a dispatch from the War Department, which read as follows:


"SIR, – War is declared against Great Britain. You will be on your guard. Proceed to your post with all possible expedition; make such arrangements for the defense of the country as in your judgment may be necessary, and wait for farther orders."


This dispatch was explicit and easily understood, but its date, and the time and manner of its reception, perplexed the general. It bore the same date as the one received a week earlier at Fort Findlay, in which there was no intimation of a declaration of war. That had been sent by a special courier from the seat of government; this had been sent by mail to Cleveland, to be there intrusted to such conveyance as "accident might supply," through one hundred miles of wilderness. 19 The former contained an important order; the latter contained information more important. This fact was inexplicable to Hull, and remains unexplained to this day. The circumstance made him feel serious apprehensions for the safety of the schooner and her consort. The question pressed heavily upon his mind whether the British commander at Malden, past which the vessels must sail, might not already have heard of the declaration of war. In that event they might be seized, and valuable plunder as well as valuable information would fall into his hands. Moved by these considerations, he dispatched an officer with some men to the mouth of the Raisin to stop the schooner, but their arrival was too late. With a fair wind she had passed that point.

A few hours afterward Hull’s apprehensions were justified by events, for he learned, on the morning after his arrival at Frenchtown, that the Cuyahoga had been captured. While sailing past Malden, unconscious of danger, at ten o’clock on the morning of the 2d, she was brought to by a gun from the shore. The British armed vessel Hunter went alongside of her, and schooner and cargo became a prize. The troops and crew were made prisoners of war. The vessel with the invalids, being behind the schooner, passed up the more shallow channel on the west side of Bois Blanc Island, and reached Detroit in the afternoon of the next day [July 3.] in safety. 20

The British commander at Malden, and those of other posts, had been notified of the declaration of war through the vigilance of British subjects in New York. Sir George Prevost, the governor general of Canada, was informed of the fact on the 24th of June by an express from New York to the Northwest Fur Company, which left that city on the 20th, the day when intelligence of the declaration of war reached there, On the 25th, Sir George sent a courier with a letter to Sir Isaac Brock, the lieutenant governor at York (now Toronto), but it did not reach him until the 3d of July, when he was at Fort George, on the Niagara frontier. He had been informed of the event by express from New York as early as the 27th of June. 21 Colonel St. George, at Malden, was informed of it by letter on the 30th, two days before it reached Hull; and Captain Roberts, in command of the British post on the island of St. Joseph, at the head of Lake Huron, was notified by letter also on the 8th of July. The letters to the last two named commanders were in envelopes franked by the American Secretary of the Treasury. 22 How these were obtained remains a mystery, for no man believes that Mr. Gallatin would have lent such assistance to any known enemy of his country. The fact that he was opposed to the war gave currency to a report that he was willing to cast obstacles in the way of the invasion of Canada, a scheme which many even of the war-party regarded as unwise. Mr. Madison was also charged with having, under the influence of Virginia politicians and the wily Calhoun, withheld aid from Hull, that the conquest of Canada might not be effected, as it would, by annexation to the United States, materially increase the area and political influence of free-labor territory, and more speedily snatch the sceptre of dominion in the affairs of the government from the slave-labor states. Assertions of this kind were prevalent at that day, and have been revived in our time. 23

Hull’s army rested a day at Frenchtown, and spent the 4th of July in constructing a bridge across the Huron River, near Brownstown, twenty-five miles from Detroit. They had passed a hostile Wyandotte village, and observed a large vessel with troops on board at Malden. Expecting an attack by a combined force of British and Indians, Hull’s troops slept upon their arms that night. 24 They marched early the next morning; and at evening, having passed the Rivers Aux Ecorces and Rouge, encamped at Spring Wells, 25 at the lower end of the Detroit settlement, opposite Sandwich in Canada, where a British force was stationed, and not far from which, up the river opposite Detroit, they were throwing up fortifications. The camp was upon a pleasant eminence, eligible for a commanding fortification. From its crown they hurled a few heavy shot across the river, "which cleared out a number of inhabitants very quick." 26 There, and near Fort Detroit, Hull allowed his troops to wash their clothes and have their arms repaired, while he was awaiting farther orders from his government. 27

Officers and men, anxious to invade Canada, were impatient, and even a mutinous spirit was manifested by some of the Ohio Volunteers. They burned with a desire to cross the river and attack the foe. The sight of growing fortifications, that would endanger the town and fort of Detroit, and soon become too formidable to face in crossing the river, maddened them, and it was with great difficulty that their officers restrained them. 28 To quiet their tumultuous impulses, Hull called a council of the field officers. He assured them that he had no authority to invade Canada. They insisted that it was expedient to do so immediately, and drive off the fort-builders. "While I have command," he said, firmly, "I will obey the orders of my government. I will not cross the Detroit until I hear from Washington." The young officers heard this announcement with compressed lips, and doubtless many a rebellious heart – rebellious toward the commander – beat quickly, with deep emotion, for hours after the council was dismissed. The general was perplexed; but, happily for all concerned, a letter came from the Secretary of War that evening, directing him to "commence operations immediately," and that, should the force under his command be equal to the enterprise, and "consistent with the safety of the American posts," he should take possession of Fort Malden at Amherstburg, and extend his conquests as circumstances might justify. 29 He was also directed to give assurance to the inhabitants of the province about to be invaded, of protection to their persons and property. With such official warrant in his hands, Hull determined to cross into Canada at once, to the delight of his army, both officers and privates. 30

Detroit at that time stretched along the river at a convenient distance back, and the present Jefferson Avenue was the principal street. It contained one hundred and sixty houses, and about eight hundred souls. The inhabitants were chiefly of French descent. Only seven years before, every building but one in the village was destroyed by fire. 31 On the hill, in the rear, about two hundred and fifty yards from the river, stood Fort Detroit, built by the English after the conquest of Canada a hundred years ago. It was quadrangular in form, with bastions and barracks, and covered about two acres of ground. The embankments were nearly twenty feet in height, with a deep dry ditch, and were surrounded by a double row of pickets. The outside row was in the centre of the ditch, and the other row projected from the bank, forming what is technically called fraise. There was a work, called the Citadel Fort, that stood on the site of the present Arsenal, or Temperance Hotel, in Jefferson Avenue. The fort was garrisoned when Hull arrived by ninety-four men. Its position was one of considerable strength, but, unfortunately, it did not command the river, and could not damage the armed vessels which the British, at that time employed in those waters. 32 The town was surrounded by strong pickets, fourteen feet high, with loop-holes to shoot through. The pickets commenced at the river, on the line of the Brush farm, and followed it to about Congress Street; thence westerly, along or near Michigan Avenue, back of the old fort, to the east line of the Cass farm, and followed that line to the river. On Jefferson Avenue, at the Cass line, and on Atwater Street, on the Brush farm, massive gates were placed. These pickets, which had been erected as defenses against Indian incursions, were yet well preserved in 1812. 33

The fortifications which the British were erecting on the opposite side of the river (then about three fourths of a mile wide) would, if completed, not only command the town, but seriously menace the fort; so, with all possible expedition, Hull prepared to cross and drive the British toward Malden. His force at that time, including the Michigan militia, under Colonel Elijah Brush, who had joined those from Ohio, numbered about twenty-two hundred effective men. 34


After great exertions, Hull collected boats and canoes sufficient to carry about four hundred men at a time. These would be too few to cross in the face of the enemy behind his breastworks, and he resorted to strategy. Toward the evening of the 11th, all the boats were sent down the river to Spring Wells, in full view of the British, and at the same time Colonel M‘Arthur, with his regiment, marched to the same point. The British prepared to dispute their passage. After dark, troops and boats moved silently up the river to Bloody Bridge, a mile and a half above Fort Detroit, and prepared to cross there. Finding all silent at Spring Wells, the deceived British believed that the Americans had gone stealthily down the river to attack Malden. Under this impression, they left Sandwich, and in the morning the Americans had no one to oppose their landing. At dawn [July 12, 1812.] the regular troops and the Ohio Volunteers crossed to the Canadian shore to a point opposite the lower end of Hog Island. They looked with suspicious eye upon a stone wind-mill on the shore, for it appeared like an excellent place for a concealed battery. 36 But there was no resistance, 37 and the little army first touched Canada just above the present town of Windsor. It was a bright and lovely Sabbath morning, with a gentle breeze from the southwest. The American flag was immediately hoisted by Colonel Cass and a subaltern 38 over Canadian soil, and was greeted by cheers from the invaders, the spectators of the passage of the Detroit at Bloody Bridge, and from the fort and town. They were also cordially received by the French Canadians. The Americans encamped on the farm of Colonel Francis Babie, 39 a French Canadian and British officer, with his fine brick mansion (then unfinished, and yet standing in Windsor) in the centre of the camp. This was taken possession of by General Hull, and used as head-quarters for himself and principal officers. The little village of Sandwich, a short distance below, gave its name to this locality, and Hull’s dispatches from his head-quarters were always dated at "Sandwich."


On the day of the invasion [July 12.], the commanding general issued a stirring proclamation to the inhabitants of Canada, which was written by Colonel Lewis Cass. "After thirty years of peace and prosperity," he said, "the United States have been driven to arms. The injuries and aggressions, the insults and indignities of Great Britain, have once more left them no alternative but manly resistance or unconditional submission." He then declared that he came as a friend, and as their liberator from British tyranny, and not as an enemy or mere conquering invader. "I tender you," he said, "the invaluable blessings of civil, political, and religious liberty, and their necessary results, individual and general prosperity. . . . Remain at your homes; pursue your peaceful and accustomed avocations; raise not your hands against your brethren." He assured them that the persons and property of all peaceful citizens should be perfectly secure. He did not ask them to join his army. "I come prepared," he said, "for any contingency. I have a force which will look down all opposition, and that force is but the vanguard of a much greater." All that he asked of them was to remain peacefully at their homes. At the same time, knowing that the British had in their service hordes of merciless savages, whose mode of warfare was indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children, or the torture of prisoners, he warned the inhabitants that no quarter would be shown to them if found fighting by the side of the Indians. "The first stroke of the tomahawk, the first attempt with the scalping-knife," he said, "will be the signal for an indiscriminate scene of desolation. No white man found fighting by the side of an Indian will be taken prisoner. Instant destruction will be his lot."

This proclamation, the presence of a considerable army, and the sight of the American flag flying on both sides of the Detroit, produced a powerful effect. Many of the Canadian militia deserted the British standard. Some joined the Americans, and others returned to their farms. A large number of families, terrified by the tales of British officers concerning the savagism of the invaders, had fled to the depths of the forests. These were soon assured, and most of them accepted Hull’s promised protection, and returned to their homes. 40

On the morning of the 13th [July, 1812.] Hull sent a reconnoitring party toward Fort Malden, at the little village of Amherstburg, eighteen miles below his head-quarters, a spot associated in the minds of the people of the West with every thing hideous in the annals of their sufferings from Indian depredations, for there the raids of the savages upon the frontier settlements had been arranged by Elliott, M‘Kee, Girty, and others. The troops were anxious to break up that nest of vultures; and the reconnoitring party, under Captain Henry Ulery, of Colonel Findlay’s regiment, went upon duty with great alacrity. They returned toward evening with intelligence that at Turkey Creek, nine miles below the camp, they had been informed that about two hundred Indians, under Tecumtha (then in the British service), had been lying in ambush at the southern end of the bridge over that stream, and that the forest was full of prowling savages. Hull immediately ordered his camp to be fortified on the land side, and what cannon he had to be placed in battery on the bank of the river, for vague rumors came that the British were about to send a small fleet up to co-operate with a land force in an attack upon the Americans. Rumors also came of Indians up the river, and a detachment of Sloan’s cavalry were sent in that direction. They sent word back that they had discovered a party of savages. At eight o’clock the same evening, Colonel M‘Arthur, with one hundred men, went in pursuit. The chase was vigorous, and at Ruscum River the pursuers fell upon the rear of the fugitives, who dispersed, fled to the woods, and escaped. M‘Arthur was about to return, when Captain Smith, of the Detroit Dragoons, overtook him with orders to push forward to the settlements on the Thames in search of provisions. He instantly obeyed, penetrated as far as the Moravian towns, sixty miles from its mouth, near which the battle of the Thames occurred in 1813, and found many farmhouses and cultivated fields along the picturesque borders of the river. Among the homes near its mouth was that of Isaac Hull, a nephew of the general. The owner had fled. The house was guarded by a file of British soldiers. These were disarmed and paroled. Boats along the stream were seized, and loaded with the winnings of the expedition; and on the 17th M‘Arthur returned to camp with about two hundred barrels of flour, four hundred blankets, and quite a large quantity of military stores. These were chiefly public property, collected for the British troops at Malden, and yet Hull gave a receipt for the whole, public and private.


Meanwhile small expeditions had been sent toward Malden. Colonel Cass, with two hundred and eighty men, accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Miller, of the regulars, pushed forward to the Ta-ron-tee, as the Wyandots called it, or Riviere Aux Canards, as it was named by the French, a wide and deep stream that passes through broad marshes into the Detroit River, about four miles above Malden. On the southern side of this stream, at the end of a bridge, was a British picket, composed of some of the Forty-first regiment, Canadian militia, and Indians under Tecumtha. 41 Leaving a rifle company of forty men in ambush, Cass marched three or four miles up the stream to a ford, came down on the south side, wading across streams armpit deep, and confronted the enemy at sunset. There he was checked by a deep tributary of the Aux Canards, and compelled to make a circuit of more than a mile to gain the shore next to the enemy. This was soon accomplished. Forming with his riflemen on each wing, Cass dashed upon the foe with great impetuosity, who fled at the first fire. He had been re-enforced; and three times he rallied, changed front, and fired upon the pursuers. Cass chased the fugitives about half a mile, the drums beating Yankee Doodle; when night fell, the pursuit was relinquished, and the attacking party returned to the bridge. A courier was sent to head-quarters to ask permission to hold the bridge, as it would be of great importance in the march of the army toward Malden. Hull refused to grant it. It was too near the enemy, he said, to be held with safety by a small detachment; and, not having received his heavy cannon from Detroit, he was not prepared to attack strong Fort Malden at Amherstburg. 42 The impatient officers and soldiers were irritated by the refusal, and murmured loudly, but Hull was unyielding. This was the first battle and victory in the second war for independence. It was hailed throughout the United States as an omen of success, and Colonel Cass was called the "Hero of Ta-ron-tee." He took two prisoners; and from deserters he learned that some of the enemy were killed, and nine or ten wounded, while he did not lose a man.

That the Americans might have taken Malden with the means at their command when they first crossed into Canada there can be no doubt. Why Hull did not attempt it is a question not easily answered to-day, unless we look for a solution in the fact that the Americans had no reliable information concerning the real strength of the fort and garrison. The fort itself was weak, and the garrison was weaker. The militia and Indians were constantly deserting. The fort consisted of four bastions flanking a dry ditch, with a single interior defense of picketing, perforated with loopholes for musketry. All the buildings were of wood, roofed with shingles. A few shells would have destroyed the works. The garrison was composed of about two hundred men of the first battalion of the Forty-first Regiment, commanded by Captain Muir; a very weak detachment of the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles; and a subaltern command of artillery under Lieutenant Troughton. 43 The exact number of Indians there at that time is not known. Colonel St. George, the commander of the post, was so well convinced of his inability to hold it against a respectable force, that orders were given to the garrison to be ready at a moment’s notice to leave the works. He preferred to risk a battle in the open field to incurring the dangers of a siege in a fortification so untenable.

But Hull did not advance upon Malden, and the post was saved and speedily strengthened. Little enterprises like that in which Colonel Cass was engaged (though none were so important in their actual or promised results) broke the monotony of camp life, while most precious time was passing away – "wasting," the young officers said. "I can scarcely restrain my indignation sufficiently while writing to describe the event in deliberate terms," said one of them in 1817. 44 "The officers," he says, "from this occurrence, began to distrust the views of the general, and their opinion of his abilities began to dwindle into contempt."

A report reached the camp, on the evening of the 17th [July, 1812.], that the Queen Charlotte, a British armed vessel of eighteen guns, at Malden, was sailing up the river, and committing depredations on the American side. Colonel Findlay was immediately detached with a small reconnoitring party toward the Aux Canards. He found the planks of the bridge torn up, the timbers formed into a breast-work on the south side of the stream, and the Queen Charlotte lying at the mouth of the river within easy supporting distance. 45 The great advantage acquired by Colonel Cass in taking possession of that bridge was utterly lost. On the following day, a small party, under Captain Snelling, went down as a corps of observation; and, to the delight of the whole army, Hull issued an order [July 18.] for its movement, which gave implied assurance of an immediate march on Malden. Under the direction of that order, Colonel M‘Arthur, the senior officer, marched down the river, on the morning of the 19th, with a detachment of his regiment, one hundred and fifty strong, and joined Captain Snelling at the Petit Côte settlement, about a mile above the bridge.

M‘Arthur was instructed to ascertain the situation of affairs at the Aux Canards, but not to go within reach of the guns of the Queen Charlotte. With his adjutant and a few riflemen he went to the top of a ridge, about three hundred yards from the river, to reconnoitre. He ascertained that the battery on the south side of the stream was supported by about sixty regulars, one hundred and fifty Canadian militia, twenty-five dragoons, and fifty Indians. Some little skirmishing ensued between the Indians, who had crossed on the timbers of the bridge, and the American riflemen; and Colonel M‘Arthur was fired upon by a gun-boat, until then undiscovered, under the bank of the river, while he was reconnoitring the position of the Queen Charlotte. He also came near being cut off by the Indians. Soon after this the whole detachment engaged in two skirmishes with the Indians. In the last the latter were commanded by Tecumtha. The ammunition of the Americans becoming scarce, they fell back, and M‘Arthur sent an express to camp for re-enforcements. On the arrival of the messenger, Colonel Cass hastened down with one hundred and fifty men and a six-pounder. He met the retreating detachment at Turkey Creek Bridge, when the united forces pushed on to Petit Côte, and there encamped for the night. The enemy had been re-enforced in the mean time with both men and artillery. Cass was anxious to attack them, and, at his request, M‘Arthur ordered the whole force toward the bridge. A few shots of the six-pounder were exchanged with the artillery of the enemy, but with little effect; and toward evening the whole detachment marched back to camp fatigued and dispirited, and bereft of all confidence in the commanding general. All accused him of incapacity; many of them denounced him in private conversation as a coward, and a few expressed the belief that he was treacherous. These suspicions were confirmed to their minds by his leaving his army on the 21st of July, and remaining at Detroit four days, without, as they alleged, any but frivolous pretexts. 46

During the absence of Hull, the command of the troops in Canada devolved on Colonel M‘Arthur, 47 who resolved to make an effort to attack Malden. He dispatched Captain M‘Cullough, with Rangers, to seek a passage for artillery across the Canards above the bridge, so as to avoid the guns of the battery and the Queen Charlotte. He found it impracticable, on account of the deep morasses that bordered the stream for several miles. Informed that the Indians had been seen between the Aux Canards and Turkey Creek, M‘Arthur sent Major Denny and one hundred and seventeen men, all militia, to drive them back. The major marched on the night of the 24th, and early next morning found an Indian ambuscade in the Petit Côte settlement, where he captured a French captain of a militia company then at Malden. During the day he had skirmishes with the savages. In the last a part of his line gave way, and he was compelled to retreat in confusion, pursued for two miles and a half by the Indians. 48 Near Turkey Creek Bridge the major endeavored to rally his men, but in vain. They crossed the bridge, and met General Lucas with re-enforcements, when the whole party returned to camp. 49 Denny had lost six killed and two wounded. This was the FIRST BLOOD SHED IN THE WAR. 50


While the little invading army were perplexed with doubts and fears, and startled by dreadful suspicions concerning their commander-in-chief, alarming intelligence came from the north – the far distant and mysterious region of the upper lakes, which was considered the great hive of the savages. In the bosom of the clear, cold, deep waters of the strait between Lakes Huron and Michigan – a strait forty miles in length and four in breadth – stands a limestone rock, about seven miles in circumference, rising in its centre to an altitude of nearly three hundred feet, and covered with a rough and generous soil, out of which springs heavy timber. The Indians, speaking the Algonquin tongue, impressed with its shape, called it Michillimackinack, which signifies The Great Turtle. On the opposite shore, which is the most northerly point of the peninsula of Michigan, the French Jesuit missionaries planted the symbol of Christianity as early as 1671, and called the Head-land Point of Ignatius. La Salle, the discoverer of the Mississippi, with Father Hennepin and others, were there in 1679; and by the side of the standard of the Prince of Peace they erected a strong-hold of war, and called it Fort Michillimackinack. The name was abbreviated to Mackinack (pronounced Mackinaw), and that orthography we will adopt.

When, on the conquest of Canada from the French, this post fell into the hands of the English, the savages that filled the country remained hostile to their new masters. "You have conquered the French," they said, "but you have not conquered us." The mighty Pontiac, the Ottawa chief, was then forming his giant confederacy in the Northwest for the extermination of the English westward of the Niagara. The principal tribes of that region were the Ottawas and Ojibwas, or Chippewas. The latter were the most powerful. Their most important village was upon the back of Michillimackinack, The Great Turtle, in the strait, where a hundred warriors resided.

On the morning of the king’s birthday [June 4.], 1763, the forests and Fort Mackinack was filled with the Ojibwas. They professed warm friendship for the English, and invited the garrison out to see their great game of ball, the favorite amusement of the Indians. It was a gay and exciting scene. At length a ball went up from the midst of the players in a lofty curve, and fell near the pickets of the fort. It was a preconcerted signal. The warriors rushed toward the fort as if in quest of the ball. Their hands were soon filled with gleaming hatchets, which the squaws had concealed beneath their blankets. A bloody massacre ensued. After a saturnalia of several days, the Indians, alarmed by rumors of the approach of a strong English force, took refuge on the island – three hundred and fifty warriors, with their families and household effects – carrying with them Alexander Henry, an English trader, who had been saved from the massacre by the hands of friendly Indians. The following year Fort Mackinack was garrisoned by the English. The Indians had fled from the island, and settlements upon it immediately commenced. It is a most delightful spot. As seen from the water, it presents a most striking picture of white cliffs, contrasting beautifully with the green foliage that half covers them. In the centre the land rises in wooded heights, in some places three hundred feet above the lake. The rocks form fantastic shapes. Here may be seen a cave, there a towering pinnacle, and in other places gorges are spanned by natural bridges.


One of the most noted of these is the Arch Rock, second only in picturesqueness to the famous Natural Bridge in Virginia. The crown is over one hundred feet above the water, and almost forty above the ground. It was formed by the falling out of great masses of stone. The Rabbit’s Peak, the Sugar-loaf, Plutonic Cave, Devil’s Kitchen, Giant’s Causeway, and the Lover’s Leap, are all famous places, and clustered with stirring legends connected with the French and English occupation, or running back to the dim old traditions of the Children of the Forest. But I will not occupy more space in describing this now famous summer resort for tourists and sportsmen – a place I have never visited. I was about to take passage at Chicago for the strait in the autumn of 1860, when I heard that snows had fallen there, and that the sceptre of Boreas was omnipotent over all those northern waters. So I turned my face homeward, content to rely upon others for all needful information. At Detroit I found the sketch of a distant view of Mackinack Island, printed on page 267; and from Ballou’s Drawing-room Companion I have copied the Arch Rock, and a near view of Mackinaw village and fort, sketched by an officer of the United States Army.


Mackinack came into the possession of the United States in 1796, when the Western military posts were finally surrendered by the British; and in 1812, Fort Holmes, 52 on the high southwest bluff of the island overlooking the fine harbor, was garrisoned by fifty-seven men, rank and file, under the command of Lieutenant Porter Hancks, of the United States Artillery. The post was a very important one as a defense to the fur-traders, and a check upon the Indians, The fort stood upon a bluff overlooking the fine semicircular harbor, a mile in extent, with an uninterrupted view into Lake Huron to the northeast, and Lake Michigan on the west. It was entirely commanded by the higher ground in the rear, on which was a stockade defended by two block-houses, in each of which a brass six-pounder was mounted. On a battery in front were two long nine-pounders, two howitzers, and a brass three-pounder. These commanded the approach to the gate. The magazine was bomb-proof, but without much ammunition or many implements of war. 53

Such was the American post in the far off wilderness, isolated from the haunts of civilized life more than one half of the year by ice and snow, surrounded by hordes of savages ready to raise the hatchet in the pay of those who might seem to be the stronger party, and liable, in the event of war, to assault by allied British and Indians from Fort St. Joseph, on an island of that name about forty miles northeast from Mackinack, in command of Captain Charles Roberts, and garrisoned with a detachment of the Tenth Royal Veteran Battalion, forty-six in number. This fort had been erected in the spring of 1812 by order of the vigilant General Brock, and that circumstance had given some uneasiness to Lieutenant Hancks. Rumors of expected hostilities had already been conveyed to him by traders, but the first knowledge that he received of the actual declaration of war was from Captain Roberts, who, on the morning of the 17th of July, appeared at Mackinack with his garrison of British regulars, two hundred and sixty Canadian militia, and seven hundred and fifteen Indians, chiefly of the tribes of the Sioux, Ottawas, Winnebagoes, and Ojibwas (Chippewas), and demanded the surrender of the post.

Captain Roberts was a vigilant and energetic officer. As soon as Sir Isaac Brock was apprised, at Fort George, on the Niagara frontier, of the declaration of war, he dispatched an express [June 26, 1812.] to Captain Roberts with the important intelligence. A letter from another hand, as we have observed, had already given that information to Roberts. Brock ordered him to attack Mackinack immediately, if practicable; or, in the event of his being attacked by the Americans, to defend his post to the last extremity. Another order, issued two days later, [June 28.] directed him to summon to his assistance the neighboring Indian tribes, British and American, and to solicit the co-operation of the employes of the Northwest Fur Company in that vicinity. Still another was issued, giving Captain Roberts discretionary powers.

Mr. Pothier, the agent of the Northwest Company, was then at St. Joseph’s, and Roberts laid before him his plan of operations. Pothier approved of them, and placed all the resources of the company at that point at his disposal; and he offered to command in person one hundred and fifty Canadian voyageurs, then employed in the company’s service, and within call.

On the morning of the 16th of July – a bright and beautiful morning – the wind blowing gently from the northwest, Captain Roberts embarked with his whole force, civilized, semi-civilized, and savage, for Mackinack, in boats, bateaux, and canoes, accompanied by two six-pounders, and convoyed by the brig Caledonia, belonging to the Northwest Fur Company, which was laden with provisions and stores. Meanwhile the doomed garrison at Mackinack was ignorant of the declaration of war and the impending blow. Lieutenant Hancks had observed with some uneasiness the sudden coolness of Ottawa and Ojibwa chiefs, who had professed great friendship only a few days before; and on the morning when Roberts sailed from St. Joseph’s, the Indian interpreter at Mackinack told Hancks that he had been assured that the Indians, who had just assembled in great numbers at St. Joseph’s, were about to attack Fort Holmes. Hancks immediately summoned the American gentlemen on the island to a conference. It was thought by them expedient to send a confidential agent to St. Joseph’s to ascertain, if possible, the temper of the commandant of the garrison, and to watch the movements of the Indians. Captain Daurman was sent on that errand. He embarked at about sunset on the 16th [July.]. The moon was at its full, and when night fell upon the waters they were softly illuminated by its dim effulgence.

Captain Daurman had accomplished fifteen miles of his voyage when he met the hostile flotilla, and was made a prisoner. He was paroled on the condition that he should land on Mackinaw in advance of the invaders, summon the inhabitants to its west side to receive the protection of a British guard for their persons and property, and not to give any information to Hancks of the approach of the expedition. He was also instructed to warn the inhabitants that all who should go to the fort would be subject to a general massacre!

Daurman was landed just at dawn, and fulfilled the provisions of his parole to the very letter. But, while the inhabitants were flying from the village to seek British protection from the blood-thirsty savages, Dr. Day, an American gentleman, more courageous than the rest, hastened to the fort and gave the alarm. This was the first intimation that reached Hancks of the approach of an enemy. That enemy had already landed, and taken one of his two heavy guns, in the gray morning twilight of the 17th, to the crown of the island, in the rear of the fort, and placed it in battery so as to command the American works at their weakest point. It was too late for Hancks to prepare for defense. By nine o’clock in the morning Roberts had possession of the heights, and the woods back of the fort seemed to be swarming with painted savages. At half past eleven a summons was made for the immediate surrender of the fort, garrison, and island "to the forces of his Britannic majesty." "This," said Hancks, in his report to the government, "was the first intimation I had of the declaration of war." Hancks held a consultation with his officers and the American gentlemen in the fort, and it was agreed that the overwhelming force, and the character of the assailants, made it expedient to surrender. 54 Honorable terms were allowed by capitulation, and at meridian the American colors were taken down, and those of Great Britain were put in their place. The garrison marched out with the honors of war. The prisoners were all paroled, and those who decided to leave Mackinaw were conveyed in a British cartel to Detroit. An order was then issued warning all those upon Mackinack who would not take an oath of allegiance to the British government to leave the island within a month from the date of the capitulation. All private property was held sacred, and the Indians were thoroughly restrained. "It was a fortunate circumstance," wrote John Askin, Jr. [July 18, 1812.], of the British Store-keeper’s Department, to Colonel William Claus at Fort George, "that the fort surrendered without firing a single gun, for had they done so I firmly believe not a soul of them would have been saved," This admission on the part of a British officer connected with the expedition, and who commanded two hundred and eighty of the savages, stains indelibly the character of the government that employed such instrumentalities – a practice which the great Earl of Chatham had vehemently denounced on the floor of the British Parliament more than thirty years before. 55

The capture of Mackinack was of the highest importance to the British interests, immediate and prospective. Valuable stores and seven hundred packages of costly furs were among the spoils of victory. The key to the fur-trade of a vast region was placed in the possession of the enemies of the United States. The command of the Upper Lakes, with all its vast advantages, was transferred to that enemy. The prison bar that kept back the savages of that region and secured their neutrality was drawn, and Detroit was exposed to fearful raids by those fierce barbarians of the wilderness, whose numbers were unknown, and the dread of whom made all the frontier settlements shudder with horror.

Such was another result of the criminal remissness, willful neglect, or imbecility of the Secretary of War. Hancks might have been apprised of the declaration of hostilities nearly a week earlier than the information reached Roberts. American instead of British efforts might have been successful, and the captured fortress might have been a British instead of an American post.



1 Immediately after the battle of Tippecanoe, the principal inhabitants of Detroit, alarmed at the aspect of affairs around them, petitioned Congress to strengthen their defenses. The Territory was too sparsely populated to present much resistance to the savages. The whole white population of Michigan was only about four thousand eight hundred, and of this number four fifths were Canadian French. The remainder were chiefly Americans, with a few English and Scotch. – Lanman’s History of Michigan, page 193.

2 The present fine city of Dayton, the county seat of Montgomery County, then contained about four hundred souls. It derives its name from General Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, who, with Generals St. Clair and Wilkinson, and Colonel Israel Ludlow, purchased a large tract of land in that section of the state.

3 The following incident connected with the volunteering was communicated to the author by the late venerable Elisha Whittlesey, then (1862) First Auditor of the Treasury Department at Washington, who was one of General Wadsworth’s aids: Colonel John Campbell, of Paine’s brigade, called out his corps at Ravenna on the 23d of May. After some stirring music, he placed himself in front of his regiment, and requested all who were willing to volunteer to step forward. Many complied, but far too few to make the proper number for a company. Finally, Colonel Campbell was compelled to stimulate them by threatening to resort to a draft. Their colonel had volunteered. It was a bright, sunny day, and he saw, high in the heavens, a brilliant star. He told his men that it was a good omen. One, who had held back, declared that if he could see the star he would volunteer. He saw it and kept his promise. Others followed, and the company was soon filled. They all signed a volunteer roll. They then elected Colonel Campbell their captain.

4 The accompanying likeness of Colonel Johnston is from a plate published in Moore’s Masonic Review. On the back of a daguerreotype of him, which he showed me at the time of my visit, was the following, in his own firm and plain hand-writing:


"Born near Ballyshannon, Ireland, March 25, 1775. Emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1786, and settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Was with Wayne’s army on the Ohio, at Cincinnati, in the winter of 1792 and ’93. A captain in Philadelphia in 1798; a clerk in the War Department; agent for Indian Affairs in the Northwest thirty-one years; a canal commissioner of Ohio eleven years; paymaster and quartermaster in the War of 1812; a commissioner for treating with the Indians in 1841-’2 [for their removal westward]. Presented to my beloved daughter, Julia Johnston Patterson, and her family, by her most affectionate father, JOHN JOHNSTON."


Colonel Johnston was an active member of the masonic fraternity. He was admitted to its mysteries at Bourbon Court-house (now Paris), Kentucky, in the winter of 1794-’5. As secretary of a lodge in Philadelphia, he walked in the funeral procession in honor of the deceased Washington, in 1800, when General Lee pronounced his famous oration. A brother member from Ireland, who walked by his side, came to Cincinnati fifty years afterward, and was welcomed to a lodge there by Colonel Johnston. – Moore’s Masonic Review, xvi., 1. When, in the summer of 1845, the remains of Daniel Boone and his wife were taken from Missouri and buried in the public cemetery at Frankfort, Kentucky, Colonel Johnston was one of the pall-bearers. He was president of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, and member of several kindred societies in other parts of the Union. Colonel Johnston died at Washington City on the 19th of April, 1861, at the age of eighty-six years. He visited the national capital for the twofold purpose of settling some accounts with the government and soliciting the appointment of a grandson to a cadetship at West Point. He was disappointed in his efforts. The great rebellion was then menacing the existence of the republic he loved so well and had served so faithfully. Sumter had fallen before its fury, and the fratricidal assassin was at the doors of the capital. His clear and active mind comprehended the danger to the liberties of his country. He sickened, but, it was believed, not seriously. He kept his room; and, in the absence of his attendant, laid down upon his bed and expired. His body was buried at Piqua, with the remains of his wife and eight children.

5 Named in honor of Simon Kenton, a noted pioneer.

6 Named in honor of Edward Tiffin, who was president of the Convention that framed the Constitution of the State of Ohio, and first governor of that state.

7 Return Jonathan Meigs was born at Middletown, Connecticut, in 1765, and was graduated at Yale College. He chose the law as a profession, and commenced its practice in his native town. He was chosen chief justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut in the winter of 1802-’3. In the following year President Jefferson appointed him commandant of United States troops and militia in Upper Louisiana, and soon afterward he became one of the judges of that Territory. He was commissioned a judge of Michigan Territory in 1807. He resigned the following year, and was elected governor of Ohio. His election was unconstitutional because of non-residence, not having lived four years in Ohio prior to the election. He was appointed United States senator for Ohio in 1808. That office he resigned, and was elected governor of that state in 1810. He was governor during the greater part of the War of 1812, and was one of the most energetic men of the West in the prosecution of that war. He was appointed postmaster general in March, 1814, and managed that important department of the government with great ability until 1823. He died at Marietta, Ohio, on the 29th of March, 1825. Governor Meigs was a tall and finely-formed man, and in deportment was dignified, yet urbane in the extreme.

The singular name of Governor Meigs suggests inquiry as to its origin. The answer may thus be briefly given: A bright-eyed Connecticut girl was disposed to coquette with her lover, Jonathan Meigs; and on one occasion, when he had pressed his suit with great earnestness, and asked for a positive answer, she feigned coolness, and would give him no satisfaction. The lover resolved to be trifled with no longer, and bade her farewell forever. She perceived her error, but he was allowed to go far down the lane before her pride would yield to the more tender emotions of her heart. Then she ran to the gate and cried, "Return, Jonathan! return, Jonathan!" He did return: they were joined in wedlock, and, in commemoration of these happy words, they named their first child Return Jonathan. He was born in 1740; was the heroic Colonel Meigs of which history says so much, and was the father of the governor of Ohio, who bore his name.

8 Fort Miami, on the Lower Maumee, just below the Falls.

9 History of the late War in the Western Country, by Robert B. M‘Afee, p. 51.

10 General Taylor was yet living, at the age of seventy-nine, in 1848, at Newport, Kentucky.

11 Urbana is the capital of Champaign County, Ohio. It was laid out by Colonel William Ward, a Virginian, in 1805. The army of General Hull encamped in the eastern part of the village. This being a frontier town, it was afterward used as a place of rendezvous and departure for troops going to the frontier. The old court-house, built in 1807, was used as a hospital.

12 These troops came from Vincennes. They had come by the way of Louisville, through Kentucky, and had been every where received with honors. Their services at Tippecanoe were duly appreciated. At Cincinnati the shore was lined with the inhabitants waiting to receive them as they crossed the Ohio from Newport. A triumphal arch had been built, over which, in large letters, were the words, "THE HEROES OF TIPPECANOE." They were received with cheers and a salute of seventeen guns (the number of the states at that time), and they, only, passed under the arch. Food and liquor in great abundance were sent to their camp. – Lieutenant Colonel Miller to his Wife, June 12, 1812 – Autograph Letter.

13 Lieutenant Colonel Miller to his Wife, June 12, 1812 – Autograph Letter.

14 Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio, page 238.

15 Armstrong’s Notices of the War of 1812, i., 48. Hull’s Memoir of the Campaign of the Northwestern Army, page 36.

16 Miami and Maumee mean the same thing. The latter method of spelling more nearly indicates the pronunciation to an English ear than the former. The Indians pronounced it as if spelled Me-aw-me. So the French spelt it, according to their pronunciation of i and a, Mi-a-mi. To distinguish this stream from the two of the same name (Great and Little Miami) that empty into the Ohio, this was frequently called the Miami of the Lakes.

17 Now Maumee City, nearly opposite Perrysburg, the capital of Wyandotte County.

18 Robert Wallace, one of General Hull’s aids-de-camp, in a letter published in a newspaper at Covington, Kentucky, in 1842, and quoted in the Appendix to General Hull’s Military and Civil Life, page 443, says, "His son, Captain Hull (who was also an aid), in executing this order, unfortunately shipped a small trunk containing the papers and reports of the army, for which he was afterward severely reprimanded by his father."

19 I am indebted to the Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, of Ohio, late First Auditor of the United States Treasury, for the following interesting account of the transmission of this dispatch from Cleveland to the camp. Mr. Walworth, the postmaster at Cleveland, was requested by the postmaster general to send the dispatch by express. Charles Shaler, Esq., a young lawyer, then in Cleveland (brother-in-law of Commodore M‘Donough), was persuaded to become the bearer, certainly as far as the Rapids of the Maumee, and possibly to Detroit. The compensation agreed upon was thirty-five dollars. On searching the mail the dispatch could not be found. It was suggested to Mr. Walworth that it might be in the Detroit mail. Having been informed by letter of the declaration of war, and believing the dispatch to be of great importance, he considered it his duty to open the Detroit mail. He did so, but with reluctance, and found the dispatch. At about noon on the 28th of June Mr. Shaler started from Cleveland on horseback. He was obliged to swim all the streams excepting the Cuyahoga at Cleveland. No relays of horses could be obtained. He reached the Rapids on the night of the 1st of July. There he was informed that the army was moving rapidly toward Detroit. He pursued and overtook it not far from the Raisin, at two o’clock in the morning of the 2d, just as the moon was rising. After some formality he was ushered into the presence of Hull, who was dressing. He was requested to be silent in the presence of camp listeners. A council of officers was immediately summoned. The army was put in motion at dawn. He accompanied it to Detroit, where his horse died from the effects of the rapid journey through the wilderness. Mr. Shaler remained in Detroit until he saw the flag of his country raised over the soil of Canada. He returned to Cleveland partly on foot, and partly on hired and borrowed horses.

20 Letter of Dr. Reynolds, dated at Detroit, July 7, 1812.

21 The late Honorable William Hamilton Merritt, of St. Catharine’s, Canada West, who was a member of the Canadian Parliament, was an active officer of dragoons during the early portion of the war on the Canadian Peninsula. He left a very valuable narrative of the events of the war in that section, in manuscript, which his family kindly placed in my hands. In that narrative I find the following statement: "We received intelligence of the declaration of war by the United States on the 27th of June, 1812, from a messenger sent by the late John Jacob Astor to Thomas Clark, Esq., of Niagara Falls. The express was immediately sent to President General Brock, who was at York."

22 Letter of General Jesup to General Armstrong, cited in the latter’s Notices of the War of 1812, i., 195.

23 It is said that when (as we shall hereafter notice) General John Armstrong and President Madison quarreled, the former, in a pamphlet, boldly made the charge alluded to in the text. They became reconciled, and the pamphlet was withdrawn, and the whole issue, as far as practicable, was destroyed. One of these pamphlets was, it is said, in possession of the late Alvan Stewart. In a letter of that gentleman to "The Liberty Party" in 1846, he alluded to this matter as follows: After noticing the points on the frontier to which General Smyth, of Virginia, General Winder, of Maryland, Generals Wilkinson and Hampton, then of Louisiana, were stationed with their troops, he says, "Four slave-holding generals, with their four armies, were stretched out on our northern frontier, not to take Canada, but to prevent its being taken by the men of New England and New York, in 1812, ’13, and ’14, lest we should make some six or eight free states from Canada, if conquered. This was treason against Northern interests, Northern blood, and Northern honor. But the South furnished the President and the Cabinet. This revelation could have been proved by General John Armstrong, then secretary of War, after he and Mr. Madison had quarreled." – Writings and Speeches of Alvan Stewart on Slavery, edited by his son-in-law, Luther R. Marsh, Esq., page 47.

We have seen that Commander Stewart (now the venerable admiral bearing the title of Old Ironsides) was called to Washington City on public business. At that time, while in conversation with Mr. Calhoun upon public matters, the latter declared to the former that whenever the control of the national government should pass out of the hands of the Southern politicians (he spoke for them, and not for the people), they would "resort to a dissolution of the Union." – See Letter of Commodore Stewart to G. W. Childs, May 24, 1861.

24 It was the intention of the British to attack Hull in the swamps of the Huron River. It was prevented by a deceptive communication to the commander at Malden by a resident there, and a friend of Hull’s. He informed Colonel St. George that Hull had sent for cannon at Detroit, and intended to cross the-river and attack Fort Malden. This caused the British commander to concentrate his troops for the defense of the fort. Meanwhile Hull moved on toward Detroit. Speaking of this event in the march, Robert Wallace, one of General Hull’s aids, writing in 1842 to the Licking Valley Register, Covington, Kentucky, says, "During that day it was remarked to me by several officers that General Hull appeared to have no sense of personal danger, and that he would certainly be killed if a contest commenced. This was said to prepare me for taking orders from the next in rank."

25 This locality was sometimes called The Sand Hills. Out of these, on the river side, many springs of pure water formerly gushed out, and these gave the name by which the place was generally known. For the same reason the French called it Belle Fontaine. The sand-hills, three in number, were Indian burial-places.

26 Lieutenant Colonel Miller to his Wife, July 7, 1812 – Autograph Letter.

27 Colonel William Stanley Hatch, of "River Home," near Cincinnati, kindly placed in my hands a chapter of his unpublished "Memoirs of the War of 1812 in the Northwest, containing a minute account of events which came under his own observation during the campaign of General Hull from May until the middle of August. Colonel Hatch was a volunteer in the Cincinnati Light Infantry, commanded by Captain John F. Mansfield of that city, and from the invasion of Canada to the surrender of the army he was acting assistant quartermaster general. To his narrative I am indebted for a number of facts given in this sketch not found recorded in history. He says that on Monday, the 6th of July, the fourth regiment of regulars marched to the fort, and that the next day the volunteers marched thither, and took up their position near the fort, south, west, and north of it.

28 General Hull had been subjected to much annoyance from the Ohio Volunteers from the beginning of the march. They were militia just called into the field, and had never been restricted by military discipline. They were frequently quite insubordinate. This fact was brought out on Hull’s trial. "One evening," says Lieutenant Baron, of the Fourth Regiment, in his testimony at the trial of General Hull, "while at Urbana, I saw a multitude, and heard a noise, and was informed that a company of Ohio Volunteers were riding one of their officers on a rail. In saying that the Ohio Volunteers were insubordinate, witness means that they were only as much so as undisciplined militia generally are. Some thirty or forty of the Ohio militia refused to cross into Canada at one time, and thinks he saw one hundred who refused to cross when the troops were at Urbana." – Forbes’s Report of the Court-martial, page 124. The same witness testified to the manifestation of a mutinous spirit at other times. On one occasion, he says, General Hull rode up and said to Colonel Miller, "Your regiment is a powerful argument; without them I could not march these men to Detroit."

29 Dispatch of William Eustis, Secretary of War, to General Hull, dated June 24, 1812.

30 On the morning of the 6th Colonel Cass was sent to Malden with a flag of truce, to demand the baggage and prisoners taken from the schooner. On his approach he was blindfolded, and in this condition was taken before Colonel St. George. He was treated courteously. The demand was unheeded, and, being again blindfolded, he was led out of the fort. He returned to camp with Captain Burbanks, of the British army. – M‘Afee.

31 The city of Detroit is about nine miles below Lake St. Clair. The river, or strait, between St. Clair and Lake Erie gave it its name, de troit being the French name of a strait. The Indians called it Wa-wa-o-te-wong. It was a trading post of the French as early as 1620, before any of the French missionaries had penetrated the distant wilderness from Quebec and Montreal. It was established as a settlement in 1701, when Antoine de la Motte Cadillac, lord of Bouaget, Moun Desert, having received a grant of fifteen miles square from Louis XIV., reached the site of Detroit with a Jesuit missionary and one hundred men, and planted the first settlement in Michigan. – Charlevoix. The name of the old Indian village on its site was called by the Ottawas Teuchsa Grondic. – Colden, cited by Lanman in his History of Michigan, page 61.

32 At that time the Americans had a small frigate, named the Adams, nearly completed, at the ship-yard on the Rouge River.

33 Judge Witherell’s Reminiscences of Detroit.

34 Lieutenant Colonel Miller – Autograph Letter.

35 This view is from the bridge that was over Bloody Run, in Jefferson Avenue, in 1860. Bloody Bridge was nearer the Detroit River, seen in the distance. It was near the second fence from the river, running from the left in the picture, and at the most distant point where the stream of water is seen. That stream is Bloody Run. The large tree in the foreground was a whitewood. It was sixteen feet in circumference; and scars of the bullets received into it during a battle a hundred years ago might still be seen in its huge trunk.

36 "Expecting, of course, that the enemy would contest our landing, we were thinking, as we left the shore, of the amusing fact that we should doubtless commence our active campaign by attacking a wind-mill." – Colonel Hatch’s Narrative. The invasion proved to be about as ridiculous and bootless as Quixotte’s attack on the wind-mills. This building was yet standing when I visited the spot in the autumn of 1860.

37 "As we were crossing the river we saw two British officers ride up very fast opposite where we intended landing, but they went back faster than they came. They were Colonel St. George, the commanding officer at Malden, and one of his captains." – Lieutenant Colonel Miller to his Wife, July 14, 1812 – Autograph Letter.

38 "Tell our much-beloved Father Flint that his son James had the honor and gratification, as commanding officer, to plant, with his own hands, assisted by Colonel Cass, the first United States standard on the pleasant bank of the Detroit River, in King George’s province of Upper Canada." – Lieutenant Colonel Miller to his Wife, July 14, 1812 – Autograph Letter.

39 Pronounced as if spelt Baw-bee. The house was about eight rods back from Sandwich Street, Windsor, with shops and mean buildings in front of it. It was a brick house, stuccoed in front, and made to represent blocks of stone. Before it was a garden, the remnant of a more spacious and beautiful one, that extended to the river bank. The house belonged to a son of Colonel Babie. When Hull took possession of it the floors were laid and the windows were in, but the partitions were not built. These were immediately made of rough boards. The general and his aids, according to Colonel Hatch’s narrative, occupied the north half of the house, or the portion seen over the heads of the two figures in the picture. The councils of war were held in the second story, over the rooms occupied by the general. General James Taylor, of Kentucky, the quartermaster general, occupied a part of the house as his head-quarters, but, being unwell, he lodged in Detroit.

40 Hull sent a copy of his proclamation to the Secretary of War, with a letter in which he expressed a hope that it would be "approved by the government." To this Secretary Eustis replied, on the 1st of August, saying, "Your letters of the 13th and 14th, together with your proclamation, have been received. Your operations are approved by the government." Such is the record; and yet, for more than fifty years, writers on the subject of this campaign have asserted that the proclamation was unauthorized and disapproved by the government. The American commissioners, at the treaty of Ghent, in the face of Secretary Eustis’s letter to the contrary, made the same assertion; and this proclamation has been always cited as one of the sins of the unfortunate General Hull. The British complained of it as an attempt to seduce the Canadians from their loyalty, and the enemies of Hull have stigmatized It as a "pompous and vaporing proclamation." As Brackenridge remarks, "Had he been eventually successful, there is no doubt that it would have been regarded as an eloquent production."

41 On the morning of the 17th a re-enforcement of troops arrived at the bridge, consisting of the remainder of the Fourth United States regiment, and a piece of artillery, under Captain Eastman. A council of officers was convened. A majority of them insisted on leaving the bridge, while Colonel Cass and Captain Snelling insisted on holding it, as it would be of the utmost importance in marching upon Malden. The overruling of their opinion, and the refusal of Hull to allow the bridge to be held, caused its abandonment. This was one of the most fatal of the delays of Hull in the early movements of this Canadian invasion.

42 "This determination," says Wallace (Licking Valley Register, 1842), "occasioned a delay of nearly three weeks, which proved most fatal to the results of the campaign. Had we been prepared for an immediate attack on Malden, our campaign would have been as glorious as it was otherwise disastrous, and the name of General Hull would have been exalted to the skies."

43 Auchinleck’s History of the War of 1812, page 51.

44 Robert B. M’Afee. – History of the late War in the Western Country, page 65.

45 A short distance up the Rouge River, and not far from Detroit, was a ship-yard (see the map), where a small brig, called the Adams, was being fitted for service at this time, under the direction of H. H. Brevoort, of the navy, who was called "Commodore" in Hull’s orders. From the 12th to the 20th of July great exertions were made to perfect her preparations.

46 M‘Afee, pages 66 to 68.

47 A biographical sketch of M‘Arthur will be found in another part of this work. See Index.

48 British authorities say that there were only twenty-two Indians, of the Minoumin tribe, in this engagement. – See Auchinleck, page 52.

49 Major Denny, at his own request, was subjected to the scrutiny of a court of inquiry, over which Colonel M‘Arthur presided. He was acquitted of all blame.

50 The check given to the Americans at the Aux Canards was made the subject of congratulation in a general order issued by General Brock on the 6th of August.

51 On the right is seen the projecting crag called Robinson’s Folly; on the left the Lover’s Leap; and in the centre Fort Mackinack, with the village of Mackinack below it. Old Fort Holmes, now a ruin, is on the higher ground in the rear. This view is from a sketch by C. F. Davis, made in August in 1839 from Round Island, and is pronounced by those who have visited Mackinack to be faithful.

52 Named in honor of Lieutenant Holmes, of Rodgers’s Rangers, so celebrated in the French and Indian war. He was in command of Fort Miami, on the Maumee River, in 1763. He was murdered there on the 27th of May, 1763, through the treachery of a young Indian girl who lived with him. She represented to him that a squaw lay dangerously ill in a wigwam not far off, and desired him to bleed her. He went out for the purpose, and was shot. The sergeant who went out to learn the cause was made a prisoner, and the fort was captured.

53 History of the Second War between the United States of America and Great Britain, by Charles J. Ingersoll, i., 80.

54 "Three American gentlemen, who were prisoners, were permitted to accompany the flag; from them I ascertained the strength of the enemy to be from nine hundred to one thousand strong. . . . The following particulars relating to the British force were obtained after the capitulation from a source that admits of no doubt: Regular troops, 46, including four officers; Canadian militia, 260. Total, 306. Savages – Sioux, 56; Winnebagoes, 48; Tallesawains, 39; Chippewas and Ottawas, 572. Total, 1021. It may be remarked that one hundred and fifty Chippewas and Ottawas joined the British two days after the capitulation." – Lieutenant Hancks’s Letter to the Secretary of War, August 4, 1812.

55 In the course of a debate in 1777 concerning the employment of Indians, a member of the House of Lords justified their employment by saying that the British had a right to use the means "which God and Nature had given them." Pitt (Earl of Chatham) scornfully repeated these words. "God and Nature! Those abominable principles, and this most abominable avowal of them, demands most decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend bench (pointing to the bishops), those holy ministers of the Gospel and pious pastors of the Church – I conjure them to join in the holy work, and to vindicate the religion of their God." His appeal to the bishops was vain. Every man of them voted for the employment of the savages in a war against their brethren in America, then struggling for their freedom.

During the war of 1812 British publicists continually insisted upon the necessity of conciliating the Indians, making them allies, and using them as terrible instruments of warfare. One of them, in the British Quarterly Review, No. 4, called piteously upon the British government to look after the interests of the savages. "The aboriginal natives," he said, "had been our faithful allies during the whole of the American rebellion, yet not a single stipulation was made in their favor. . . . We dare assert, and recent facts [the aid given by the Indians in the vicinity of Detroit] have gone far in establishing the truth of the proposition, that the Canadas can not be effectually and durably defended without the friendship of the Indians!"



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