* Chesapeake Bay * Alexandria * Baltimore * Hampden * Fort Peter
GREAT LAKES / SAINT LAWRENCE RIVER
WEST INDIES / GULF COAST
* James Island * Charles Island * Nuku Hiva * Downes Expedition * Porter Expedition * Typee Valley * Valparaiso (Capture of USS Essex) * Seringapatam Mutiny * Action of 9 May 1814
The series of minor ENGAGEMENTS ON LAKE HURON left the British in
control of the lake and their Native American allies in control of the
Old Northwest for the latter stages of the
War of 1812
An American force which had failed to recapture the outpost at Fort
Mackinac in August 1814 attempted to starve its garrison into
surrender by destroying the schooner which carried supplies to
Mackinac from the
Nottawasaga River and then blockading the island
with two gunboats. A party of sailors of the
* 1 Background * 2 American Expedition of 1814 * 3 Action at Nottawasaga * 4 Movements in late August * 5 Capture of the gunboats * 6 Aftermath * 7 Results * 8 Notes * 9 References * 10 External links
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The Old Northwest, as the modern American Midwest was known at the
time, was inhabited by various Native American peoples who in the late
18th and early 19th centuries were resisting, with British support,
efforts of American colonists to settle in the region. The British
military outpost at St. Joseph Island was the most distant extent of
British authority, and furthest from reinforcement from Lower Canada.
North West Company
The news inspired large numbers of Natives to rally to the British
Having constructed their own naval flotilla on Lake Erie, on 10
September 1813 the Americans won the decisive naval Battle of Lake
Erie . This allowed Harrison's army to recapture Detroit and win the
Battle of Moraviantown , where
AMERICAN EXPEDITION OF 1814
In 1814, the Americans mounted an expedition to recover Mackinac. The
American force initially consisted of five vessels (the brigs Lawrence
, Niagara and Caledonia , and the gunboats Scorpion and Tigress under
Arthur Sinclair , with 700 soldiers (half of them regulars
from the 17th, 19th and 24th U.S. Infantry, the other half volunteers
The expedition sailed from Detroit and entered
ACTION AT NOTTAWASAGA
In spite of their victory, the British at Mackinac were very short of
provisions and would starve if they were not resupplied before Lake
Huron froze at the start of winter. Sinclair had earlier captured a
small schooner (Mink) belonging to the Canadian
North West Company
The British detachment at Nottawasaga consisted of a
The Americans believed that Nancy was still en route to the Nottawasaga and intended to intercept the schooner on the lake, but on 14 August some of Croghan's troops landed to set up an encampment on the spit of land at the mouth of the river and foraging parties chanced on the schooner's hiding place. The next day, Croghan's troops (three companies of regular infantry) landed and attacked. The American vessels opened fire over intervening sand hills without success, but the Americans then landed a detachment of artillery with one (or two) 5.5–inch howitzers to support the infantry.
Worsley decided that further defence was impossible and made preparations to destroy the blockhouse and schooner. A line of powder was set running to Nancy and from there to the blockhouse. At four o'clock, Nancy was set alight which in turn by way of the powder train, set off an explosion in the blockhouse. The blockhouse explosion surprised Sinclair, causing him to think that one of the howitzer's shots had found its mark. Worsley's party then retreated into the woods, having suffered one killed and one wounded.
The Americans recovered the guns from the wrecked blockhouse and then felled trees across the river to block it. Sinclair departed for Detroit in Niagara, leaving the gunboats under Lieutenant Daniel Turner to maintain a blockade of the bay. Sinclair's orders were that the gunboats were to remain until they were driven from the Lake by bad weather in October, by which time it would be impossible for small boats to re-establish communications between the Nottawasaga and Mackinac. He did however authorize Tigress to cruise for a week or two around St. Joseph Island to intercept fur canoes. The gunboats' crews were reinforced by twenty-five men of the 17th U.S. Infantry, to serve as marines .
MOVEMENTS IN LATE AUGUST
The Americans had missed one hundred barrels of provisions in a
storehouse, and two batteaux and Livingston's large canoe which had
been moved higher up the Nottawasaga River. Worsley removed the
obstructions from the river and sailed for
Fort Mackinac with his
sailors and Livingston, carrying seventy barrels, late on 18 August.
Accounts of subsequent events vary; some state that Worsley evaded the
gunboats, which were forced back into
The Americans then heard that several boats manned by hired Canadian
voyageurs under Captain J. M. Lamothe were attempting to reach
Having rowed and paddled 360 miles (580 km), Worsley encountered the
two gunboats in the Detour on 24 August but was able to turn aside
without being spotted. He concealed the batteaux at a secluded bay and
his whole party reached
CAPTURE OF THE GUNBOATS
Supplies at Mackinac had run so short that McDouall's soldiers were
on half rations, and he had even killed some horses to feed the Native
Americans. Worsley asked McDouall for reinforcements to be used to
attack the gunboats. He was given four large boats and 60 men of the
Royal Newfoundland Fencibles , all of whom were accustomed to serving
as marines. Lieutenants Bulger , Armstrong and Raderhurst of the Royal
Newfoundland commanded three of the boats. Worsley commanded the
other, which held 17 of his sailors. Bulger's boat was armed with a
3-pounder gun railing gun from Nancy and Worsley's with a 6-pounder
gun, also from the Nancy. Two hundred
Late on 2 September, the boats and canoes landed on Drummond Island .
Worsley and Livingston went scouting the next day, and spotted Tigress
anchored a few miles away. That night, the British and
Livingston set off to find Scorpion, and returned two hours later to report that the gunboat was approaching. The captured Americans were hastily sent ashore. The next day, Scorpion came into view and anchored about 2 miles (3.2 km) away, but appeared not to have heard any of the fight. At dawn on 6 September, Worsley set sail towards Scorpion in Tigress, under American colours and with most of his men below decks or concealed under their greatcoats. The unsuspecting crew of Scorpion could be seen scrubbing the deck. Worsley approached to within few yards of the Scorpion and then fired a volley of muskets and Tigress's 24-pounder cannon. As the vessels came into contact, Worsley's men swarmed aboard the American vessel. The surprised Americans made little resistance. Two Americans were killed and two wounded. There were no British casualties.
Scorpion (but not Tigress) had boarding nettings rigged and might have been able to fight off a boarding attempt from small boats, but not from a vessel of equal size.
The captured Scorpion and Tigress were renamed Confiance and Surprise. They sailed at once for the Nottawasaga. On hearing of the loss of Nancy, Lieutenant General Sir Gordon Drummond , the Governor General of Upper Canada, had urgently dispatched batteaux and extra supplies to the Nottawasaga. Confiance and Surprise returned to Mackinac at the start of October with sufficient provisions to keep the garrison of Mackinac supplied until the end of the war.
The British planned to build a frigate and other vessels at Penetanguishene on Matchedash Bay in 1815, which would have further reinforced the British advantage in the area. The end of the war put a halt to most of this construction (although the armed schooner Tecumseth and the unarmed transport vessel Bee were built in 1816 and a naval base was opened at Penetanguishene in 1817). However, all British shipbuilding efforts on the lakes had to compete for resources against those on Lake Ontario, which were being surpassed by the Americans at Sackets Harbor. Another major problem was lack of additional land transportation for such purposes.
At the end of the war, some British officers (including McDouall) and
Canadians objected to handing back Prairie du Chien and especially
Mackinac under the terms of the
Treaty of Ghent
Some historians maintain that the expedition to recapture Mackinac
Island was not merely a failure but also a waste of resources. The
troops would have been better employed in the battles on the Niagara
peninsula and the crews of the vessels more use in the squadron on
* ^ Gough (2002), pp.4-5
* ^ Gough (2002), pp.5-6
* ^ A B Gough (2002), p.7
* ^ Gough (2002), pp.6-7
* ^ Hitsman (1999) pp.72-73
* ^ Elting (1995), p.278
* ^ Zaslow, p.148
* ^ Gough, p.139
* ^ A B C Zaslow, p.150
* ^ A B Zaslow, p.151
* ^ A B Zaslow, p.153
* ^ A B Cruikshank, Ernest A. "The Documentary History of the
campaign upon the Niagara frontier. Part 1-2". Lundy's Lane Historical
Society. p. 193. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
* ^ Elting, p.280
* ^ A B Roosevelt, p.206
* ^ Zaslow, p.152
* ^ Lardas, Mark (2012).
* Cruikshank, Ernest A. (1964). "An Episode of the War of 1812: The Story of the Schooner Nancy". In Zaslow, Morris. The Defended Border. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada. ISBN 0-7705-1242-9 . * Elting, John R. (1995). Amateurs to Arms. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80653-3 . * Gough, Barry (2002). Fighting Sail on Lake and Georgian Bay. St. Catherines: Vanwell Press. ISBN 1-55068-114-1 . * Gough, Barry (2006). Through Water, Ice & Fire: Schooner Nancy of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn Press. ISBN 1-55002-569-4 . * Hitsman, J. Mackay (1999). The Incredible War of 1812. Robin Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-13-3 . * Roosevelt, Theodore . The Naval War of 1812. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-375-75419-9 .