The Royal Newfoundland Regiment travels over land and ice-crusted water to relieve Fort Michilimackinac during the War of 1812. From YouTube.
Explore Fort Mackinac in Mackinac State Historic Parks, Michigan. From YouTube.
War of 1812
Michilimackinac had its only military action during the WAR OF 1812. Under the command of Captain Charles Roberts, a 600-man British, Canadian and Aboriginal force from FORT ST JOSEPH landed on the night of 17 July 1812, one month after the outbreak of war. They placed a cannon on high ground behind the fort and knowing that the 61-man garrison was unaware of the beginning of hostilities, demanded its surrender. Recognizing the superior force, the American commander, Lieutenant Porter Hanks, accepted the terms. By their victory, the British gained control of the Northwest; they subsequently built Fort George in 1814 to command the island's highest point.
The British remained unchallenged until July 1814, when a US naval squadron appeared off the island with 750 troops aboard. The elevated position of Fort Michilimackinac prevented the ships' guns from bombarding it effectively, so the squadron's only alternative was to land the army 3.2 kilometres to the north. The US troops went ashore on 4 August and were opposed by the British and their Aboriginal allies. The ensuing BATTLE OF MACKINAC ISLAND was inconclusive, and the US force withdrew. In a final attempt, the naval commander assigned the gunboats Tigress and Scorpion to maintain a blockade. This was effective until a force from Michilimackinac surprised and captured the vessels in early September (3 to 5 September).
Returned to the US in 1815, Fort Mackinac, as the island post is more commonly called, protected a major fur-trading centre until the 1830s and was garrisoned until 1895. In that year, it was given to the state of Michigan for use as a park. Today, two of the forts are open to the public as museums. Visitors to Fort Mackinac can see its stone walls and four buildings contemporary to the War of 1812, the 1814 battlefield and the ruins of Fort George. The 1715-1781 fort on the south mainland has been reconstructed.
Author BRIAN LEIGH DUNNIGAN
Brian Leigh Dunnigan, The British Army at Mackinac, 1812-1815, Mackinac History and Archaeology, Number 7 (1980, reprinted in 1992) and A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography, 1615-1860 (2008); E.O. Wood, Historic Mackinac (1918).
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Sir Isaac Brock
A biography of Sir Isaac Brock, a colonial administrator and British officer who was lauded as a hero of the War of 1812. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
This website is dedicated to Fort Michilimackinac in Michigan State. Occupied by French and British military forces prior to the American Revolution. From the Mackinac Island State Park Commission.
The Canadian Register of Historic Places
Canada is home to a vast array of fascinating historical sites. Many of them are illustrated and described in this searchable online database of Canadian historic places that are of local, provincial, territorial, and national significance.
A Brief History of Michigan
See a brief history of the State of Michigan. From the Michigan Legislature website.
The website for "Algoma 1812." Dedicated to overseeing the Algoma region's Bi-Centennial Commemoration of the War of 1812. Check out the chronology of historical events related to the War of 1812.
Statement of Significance – Michigan in the War of 1812
A concise summary of the lasting impact of the War of 1812 on the development of the state of Michigan. From the Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.
The Making of a Major General: the Politics of Command of the North West Army, 1812-13
An extensive article that examines infighting within the US government and military establishment regarding the appointment and tenure of William Hull and other senior American army officers and the resulting impact on the course of the War of 1812. Note: contains common 19th century vernacular references.