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Coordinates : 45°51′11″N 84°37′03″W / 45.853056°N 84.6175°W / 45.853056; -84.6175

SIEGE OF FORT MACKINAC

Part of the War of 1812

Fort Mackinac, Michigan
Michigan

DATE 17 July 1812

LOCATION Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island
, Michigan
Michigan

RESULT British victory

BELLIGERENTS

United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Native Americans United States
United States

COMMANDERS AND LEADERS

Charles Roberts Porter Hanks

STRENGTH

About 600 regulars, fur traders, voyageurs and natives 61

CASUALTIES AND LOSSES

None 61 surrendered

* v * t * e

Detroit frontier

* Tippecanoe * Fort Mackinac (1812) * Brownstown * Maguaga * Fort Dearborn * Detroit * Fort Harrison * Fort Wayne * Wild Cat Creek * Mississinewa * Frenchtown * Africa Point * Fort Meigs * Fort Stephenson * Lake Erie * Thames * Longwoods * Prairie du Chien * Campbell Island * Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island
(1814) * Lake Huron
Lake Huron
* Malcolm\'s Mills

The SIEGE OF FORT OF MACKINAC was one of the first engagements of the War of 1812 . A British and Native American force captured the island soon after the outbreak of war between Britain and the United States
United States
. Encouraged by the easy British victory, more Native Americans rallied to their support. Their cooperation was an important factor in several British victories during the remainder of the war.

CONTENTS

* 1 Background * 2 Capture of Mackinac * 3 Aftermath * 4 Notes * 5 Sources

BACKGROUND

Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island
was a U.S. fur trading post in the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan
Michigan
and Lake Huron
Lake Huron
. Since the mid-seventeenth century, it had been important for its influence and control over the Indian tribes in the area. British and Canadian traders had resented it being ceded to the United States
United States
at the end of the American Revolutionary War . The United States
United States
Army maintained a small fort, named Fort Mackinac , on the island. About 40 miles (64 km) away was the British military post on St. Joseph Island and the (Canadian ) North West Company 's trading post at Sault Sainte Marie .

The British commander in Upper Canada
Canada
, Major General Isaac Brock
Isaac Brock
, had kept the commander of the post at St. Joseph Island, Captain Charles Roberts , informed of events as war appeared increasingly likely from the start of 1812. As soon as he learned of the outbreak of war, Brock sent a canoe party led by the noted trader William McKay to Roberts with the vital news, and orders to capture Mackinac.

McKay reached St. Joseph Island on 8 July. With the assistance of the North West Company, Roberts immediately began to collect a force consisting of three men of the Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
, 47 British soldiers of the 10th Royal Veteran Battalion (which Roberts later described as being "debilitated and worn down by unconquerable drunkenness" ), 150 Canadian or métis (part-Indian) fur traders and voyageurs , 300 Ojibwa
Ojibwa
(Chippewa) or Ottawas who were at the island to trade skins, and 110 Sioux
Sioux
, Menominee and Winnebago who had been recruited by Indian agent Robert Dickson from present-day Wisconsin
Wisconsin
.

As preparations for the expedition proceeded, Roberts received successive orders from Brock to cancel, and then to reinstate, the attack on Mackinac. Colonel Edward Baynes , the Adjutant General for all British forces in Canada, also sent orders for Roberts to concentrate on defending St. Joseph Island. However, on 15 July, Roberts received further orders from Brock which allowed him to use his own discretion. Fearing that the Indians would drift away if they were not allowed to attack, Roberts immediately set out. His force was embarked in the armed schooner Caledonia belonging to the North West Company, seventy war canoes and ten bateaux .

CAPTURE OF MACKINAC

Fort Mackinac was sited on a limestone ridge which overlooked the harbour at the south-eastern end of the island. The American garrison consisted of 61 artillerymen under Lieutenant Porter Hanks with seven guns, although only one of these, a 9-pounder, could reach the harbour. There were other weaknesses; the garrison relied for fresh water on a spring outside the fort, and the position was overlooked by a higher ridge less than a mile away.

The United States
United States
Secretary of War William Eustis , who was apparently preoccupied with financial economies, had sent no communications to Hanks for several months. He sent word of the declaration of war on 18 June to the commanders in the northwest by ordinary rate post. The Postmaster at Cleveland, Ohio realised the importance of the news and hired an express rider to take it to Brigadier General William Hull , who was advancing on Detroit , but it was too late to save both Hull and Hanks from being taken by surprise by the outbreak of hostilities.

Though he was unaware of events elsewhere, Hanks had heard rumours of unusual activity at St. Joseph Island. He sent a fur trader named Michael Dousman , who held a commission as an officer in the militia , to investigate. Dousman's boat was captured by the advancing British force, and Dousman apparently quickly changed sides.

Having learned from Dousman that the Americans at Mackinac were unaware of the outbreak of war, Robert's force landed at a settlement later named British Landing on the north end of the island, 2 miles (3.2 km) away from the fort, early on the morning of 17 July. They quietly removed the village's inhabitants from their homes, dragged a 6-pounder cannon through the woods to a ridge above the fort and fired a single round before sending a message under a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of the fort.

Hanks's force was surprised and was already at a tactical disadvantage. The flag of truce had been accompanied by three of the villagers, who greatly exaggerated the number of Indians in Roberts's force. Fearing a massacre by the Indians, Hanks capitulated without a fight. The garrison of the fort was taken prisoner but was released on giving their parole not to fight for the remainder of the war.

AFTERMATH

The island's inhabitants were made to swear an oath of allegiance to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
or leave within a month. Most took the oath. Roberts arrested three deserters from the British Army and twenty alleged British citizens. There was no looting, although Roberts expropriated the goods in the United States
United States
storehouses and a government trading post and purchased several bullocks to feed the Indians. The British abandoned their own fort at St. Joseph Island and concentrated their forces at Mackinac Island.

Of the Indians present, the Ottawa contingent had apparently remained aloof from the others. They and most of the Chippawas later dispersed. At least some of the Western Indians proceeded south to join the tribes with Tecumseh
Tecumseh
at Fort Amherstburg . The mere threat of their arrival prompted the American Brigadier General Hull to abandon his invasion of Canadian territory and retreat to Detroit on 3 August.

The news of the loss of Mackinac prompted several Indian tribes (such as the Wyandots near Detroit) who had been friendly to the Americans or neutral, to rally to the British cause. Their hostility influenced the U.S. surrender at the Siege of Detroit shortly afterwards. Lieutenant Hanks was killed by a cannon shot at Detroit shortly before the surrender, while awaiting a court martial for cowardice.

British control of Fort Mackinac and northern Michigan
Michigan
was not again seriously challenged until 1814 when a large American force was dispatched to retake control of the area; a mission which resulted in the Battle of Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island
.

NOTES

* ^ A B Elting, p.29 * ^ A B Hitsman, p.74 * ^ A B C Hitsman, p.72 * ^ A B C Hitsman, p.73 * ^ Elting, p.27 * ^ Elting, p.30 * ^ Zaslow, p.17 * ^ Hitsman, p.75

SOURCES

* Elting, John R. (1995). Amateurs to Arms. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80653-3 . * Hitsman, J. Mackay; Graves, Donald E. (1999). The Incredible War of 1812. Toronto: Robin Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-13-3 . * Zaslow, Morris (1964). The Defended Border. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada. ISBN 0-7705-1242-9 .

* v * t * e

Conflicts of the War of 1812

Battles of the War of 1812

UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, D.C.

* Burning of Washington

GEORGIA

* Battle of Fort Peter

LOUISIANA

* Battle of New Orleans
Battle of New Orleans
* Siege of Fort St. Philip

MARYLAND

* Battle of Baltimore * Battle of Bladensburg * Battle of Caulk\'s Field * Battle of North Point * Battle of St. Michaels * Raid on Havre de Grace

MASSACHUSETTS

* Battle of Hampden

NEW YORK

* Battle of Big Sandy Creek
Battle of Big Sandy Creek
* Battle of Buffalo * Battle of Ogdensburg * Battle of Plattsburgh * Capture of Fort Niagara * Raid on Black Rock * Second Battle of Sacket\'s Harbor

OHIO

* Battle of Fort Stephenson * Copus massacre * Siege of Fort Meigs

VIRGINIA

* Battle of Craney Island
Battle of Craney Island
* Raid on Alexandria * Skirmish at Farnham Church * Battle of Rappahannock River

U.S. TERRITORIES

ALABAMA

* Battles of Fort Bowyer

ILLINOIS

* Battle of Fort Dearborn * Battle of Rock Island Rapids * Siege of Prairie du Chien

INDIANA

* Battle of the Mississinewa * Battle of Tippecanoe * Battle of Wild Cat Creek * Siege of Fort Harrison * Siege of Fort Wayne
Siege of Fort Wayne

MICHIGAN

* Battle of Brownstown * Battle of Frenchtown * Battle of Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island
* Battle of Maguaga * Siege of Detroit * Siege of Fort Mackinac

MISSISSIPPI

* Battle of Burnt Corn
Battle of Burnt Corn
* Battle of Callabee Creek * Canoe Fight * Battle of Holy Ground * Battle of Horseshoe Bend * Battle of Talladega * Battle of Tallushatchee
Battle of Tallushatchee
* Battles of Emuckfaw and Enotachopo Creek * Fort Mims massacre * Kimbell–James Massacre

MISSOURI

* Battle of Credit Island * Battle of the Sink Hole

BRITISH NORTH AMERICA

LOWER CANADA

* Battle of the Chateauguay * First Battle of Lacolle Mills * Second Battle of Lacolle Mills

UPPER CANADA

* Battle of Beaver Dams * Battle of Chippawa * Battle of Cook\'s Mills * Battle of Crysler\'s Farm * Battle of Fort George
Battle of Fort George
* Battle of Frenchman\'s Creek * Battle of Longwoods * Battle of Lundy\'s Lane * Battle of Malcolm\'s Mills * Battle of Queenston Heights * Battle of Stoney Creek * Battle of the Thames * Battle of York * Capture of Fort Erie * Raid on Elizabethtown * Raid on Port Dover * Raid on Gananoque * Siege of Fort Erie

SPANISH EMPIRE

SPANISH FLORIDA

* Battle of Pensacola

NAVAL BATTLES

ATLANTIC OCEAN

* Capture of HMS Boxer
Capture of HMS Boxer
* Capture of HMS Cyane * Capture of HMS Epervier * Capture of HMS Frolic * Capture of HMS Penguin * Capture of HMS Dominica * Capture of USS Argus
Capture of USS Argus
* Capture of USS Chesapeake * Capture of USS President * Chesapeake Bay Flotilla * USS Constitution vs HMS Java * Sinking of HMS Avon * Battle of Fayal
Battle of Fayal
* Sinking of HMS Peacock * Sinking of HMS Reindeer * USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere * USS United States
United States
vs HMS Macedonian

CARIBBEAN SEA

* Battle of La Guaira

GREAT LAKES

* Battle of Lake Erie * Battle of Fort Oswego * Engagements on Lake Huron * Engagements on Lake Ontario * First Battle of Sacket\'s Harbor

GULF COAST

* Action of 13 December 1814 * Battle of Lake Borgne
Battle of Lake Borgne

PACIFIC OCEAN

* Action off James Island * Action off Charles Island
Action off Charles Island
* Nuku Hiva Campaign * Battle of Valparaiso (Capture of USS Essex)

See also: American Indian Wars , Creek War
Creek War
, Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
, and Tecumseh\'s War

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Category
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