PICTORIAL FIELD-BOOK OF THE WAR OF 1812.
BY BENSON J. LOSSING
CAMPAIGN ON THE DETROIT FRONTIER.
Alarming Rumors and Facts. – A mutinous Spirit in Hull’s Army. – Energy and Vigilance of General Brock. – Inactivity of Governor Prevost. – The Car Brigade. – Alarm caused by Hull’s Invasion. – Brock before the Canadian Legislature. – That Body despondent. – Symptoms of Disloyalty in Canada. – Brock’s Influence. – His Proclamation. – Volunteer Militia. – Re-enforcements and Supplies at the River Raisin. – Defeat of Major Van Horne at Brownstown. – Perils of a Supply-train. – Loud Complaints against Hull. – Cheering Orders. – A grievous Disappointment. – The Army recrossed to Detroit. – Expedition to Succor the Supply-train. – Colonel Miller and his Men. – March toward the Raisin. – Indian Scouts. – British and Indian Force. – Walk-in-the-Water. – Battle of the Oak Woods, or Maguaga. – The British and their Savage Allies defeated. – Appearance of the Savages. – Rebuke of a hesitating Soldier. – Maguaga Battle-ground. – The Wounded saved from Capture. – Disappointment of the Troops. – Disposition to deprive Hull of Command. – The British before Detroit. – Pecuniary Aid for Brock. – He proceeds to Fort Malden. – Conference with Indians. – Amnesty offered and accepted. – Preparations for attacking Detroit. – Its surrender predetermined. – Hull deceived by false Reports and Appearance. – Escort sent for Brush. – Its Fate. – Demand for the Surrender of Detroit. – The Garrison threatened with Massacre. – The Demand refused. – Bombardment of Fort Detroit. – British and Indians cross the River. – They move against the Fort. – Hull’s Troops restrained from Action. – All ordered into the Fort. – Scenes within the Fort. – Surrender of Detroit. – Indignation of the Troops. – Hull assumes all Responsibility. – Position of M‘Arthur and Cass. – Escape of Captain Brush and his Command. – Result of the Surrender. – Effect of the Surrender. – Incidents. – Disposal of the Prisoners. – A Courier’s remarkable Ride. – British Occupation of Detroit and Michigan. – General Brock knighted. – Colonel Cass’s Statement about the Surrender of Detroit. – Public Indignation. – A mischievous Armistice. – Hull in Captivity. – A Court-martial called to Try him. – Its Composition and Decision. – Hull pardoned by the President. – A Consideration of Hull’s public Character. – His own Defense. – The Government more to blame than Hull. – A Scape-goat wanted and found. – Biographical Sketch of Hull.
"They who have nothing more to fear may well
Indulge a smile at that which once appall’d,
As children at discovered bugbears."
Disastrous in the highest degree to the American cause was the fall of Mackinack, and the prospect which it presented to Hull was justly appalling. His uneasiness was increased by intelligence that came almost hourly of the web of extreme difficulties fast weaving around him. He had sent to the Governors of Ohio and Kentucky for re-enforcements and supplies, but he had, as yet, no positive tidings of their approach. From the north came sounds of dreadful import to a handful of isolated soldiers. The savage chiefs in alliance with the British at Mackinack had sent couriers to all the villages south as far as the Maumee, informing their warriors of that alliance, of the fall of Mackinack, of the investment of Chicago, and of their active preparations to proceed to Malden in great force, to join other warriors there, and attack Detroit. From the east came a rumor that the Canadians and savages in that direction were also hasting toward Malden, and that a detachment of British soldiers, with artillery, under the command of Major Chambers, had landed at the west end of Lake Ontario, penetrated in the direction of Detroit as far as the River Trench, or Thames, and were receiving great accessions of militia and Indians on their march. The alarm created by these facts and rumors was immediately intensified by farther reports[August 4, 1812.] that Colonel Proctor, of the British army, had arrived at Malden from Fort Erie with re-enforcements. 1 Then came over from Sandwich an intercepted letter from a member of the Northwest Company at Fort William, dated two days after the fall of Mackinack, saying that, on the receipt of the declaration of war, their agents ordered a general muster of their forces, which amounted to twelve hundred men, exclusive of several hundreds of the natives. "We are equal, in all," he said, "to sixteen or seventeen hundred strong. One of our gentlemen started on the 17th with several light canoes for the interior country to rouse the natives to activity, which is not hard to do on the present occasion. We likewise dispatched messengers in all directions with the news. I have not the least doubt but our force two days hence will amount to five thousand effective men. Our young gentlemen and engagees offered most handsomely to march immediately for Michillimackinack. Our chief, Mr. Shaw, expressed his gratitude, and drafted one hundred. They are to proceed this evening for St. Joseph’s. He takes about as many Indians. Could the vessel contain them, he might have had four thousand more. It now depends on what accounts we receive from St. Joseph’s, whether these numerous tribes from the interior will proceed to St. Joseph’s or not." 2
In addition to these causes for alarm, Hull discovered a spirit of mutiny in his own camp which gave him more uneasiness still – a spirit, he said, "which before had manifested itself in whispers, increased and became more open. It was evident it was now fostered and encouraged by the principal officers of the militia, and was fast rising into an avowed conspiracy."3 This mutinous spirit we shall consider presently.
Such was the situation of General Hull and his army at the middle of the first week in August, when the cheering intelligence reached them that Captain Henry Brush, of Chillicothe, Ohio, with two hundred and thirty volunteers, one hundred beef cattle and other provisions, and a mail, were at the crossing of the River Raisin, thirty-five miles distant.
The energy and vigilance of Major General Brock, and the lack of these qualities at this time in General Hull, saved Upper Canada from a disastrous invasion. The amiable Sir George Prevost, the governor general, was spending precious time at Quebec in absolute unbelief of impending war, while Brock, who, in October[October 9.], 1811, had been made "president and administrator of the government of Upper Canada" – that is to say, lieutenant governor – perceived, from the moment of his arrival at his post, that war was inevitable, and made preparations accordingly. He was vigilant, active, sagacious, and brave, and made the most of his inadequate resources to repel the invasion of Hull. From the beginning he was opposed to the employment of the Indians, and discountenanced the attempts to arouse their resentment against the Americans before war was declared; but necessity compelled him to accept their services. 4 He endeavored to strengthen the remote military posts. When navigation opened in the spring of 1812, he sent a supply of ordnance and stores to St. Joseph’s and to Amherstburg. He visited the latter post early in June, taking with him a re-enforcement of one hundred men of the Forty-first Regiment. But in all his movements he was restrained by his superior. As late as his departure for Amherstburg, Sir George Prevost, not believing hostilities to be near, recommended him to employ the most rigid economy in the public expenditure, and to avoid all expenses not absolutely necessary, because of the great difficulty of raising money.
When intelligence of the declaration of war reached Brock he was at York, now Toronto, the capital of his province. He had just been offered a company of farmers’ sons, with their draught-horses, for the equipment of a car brigade, under Captain Holcroft, of the Royal Artillery. He was considering this generous offer of the yeomanry when the startling news arrived. It was immediately accepted. An extraordinary session of the Legislature was summoned; and with Evans, his brigade major, and his aid-de-camp, Captain Glegg, he hastened to Fort George, on the Niagara frontier, and there established his military head-quarters. His intention was to cross the Niagara River immediately and capture the American fort of that name, but he shrank from the responsibility of taking such an important step without instructions, at the same time assuring his superior that it might be "demolished, when found necessary, in half an hour." 5 He contented himself with making preparations for offensive or defensive movements, as circumstances might require. The militia of the peninsula between Lakes Erie and Ontario being summoned to his standard, eight hundred men responded by their presence. Yielding to necessity, he called upon the Indians on the Grand River for aid, and a hundred came, under John Brant, bringing promise of the speedy appearance of the remainder. 6
FORT NIAGARA, FROM FORT GEORGE.
By the 3d of July the "car brigade" was completed, with horses belonging to gentlemen "who spared them free of expense." Meanwhile the Americans had gathered a considerable force on the east side of the river, scattered at different points along a line of thirty miles from Buffalo to Fort Niagara, and estimated by General Brock to be twelve hundred strong.7
On the 20th of July Brock received intelligence of Hull’s invasion; also a copy of his proclamation, with hints of its effect. Those hints, and a knowledge of the weakness of Fort Malden, alarmed him.8 The Legislature, about to meet at York, would require his presence, and he could not leave for the field in the West, as he desired to do. Divided duties perplexed him. He instantly recalled a portion of the militia whom he had permitted to go home to gather in the grain harvest, and they murmured. He dispatched Colonel Proctor, of the Forty-first Regiment, with such re-enforcements as he could spare, to assume command at Amherstburg, and the inhabitants of the Niagara border felt themselves abandoned. He issued a counter-proclamation [July 22, 1812.] to neutralize the effect of Hull’s, and hope revived.
Leaving the military along the Niagara frontier in charge of Lieutenant Colonel Myers, Brock hastened to York, and, with much parade, opened the Legislature in person. His address was cordially responded to; but he soon found that the Legislature partook, in a large degree, of the despondency of a great portion of the people of Upper Canada, which Hull’s menacing proclamation and actual invasion had produced. Five hundred militia in the Western District had already sought Hull’s protection; the Norfolk militia, most of them connected by blood with the inhabitants of the United States, peremptorily refused to take up arms; and the Indians on the Grand River, in the heart of the province, after some of their chiefs returned from a visit to Hull, refused, with few exceptions, to join the British standard, declaring their intention to remain neutral. With such promises of failure and disaster before them if resistance should be made, a majority of the Assembly were more disposed to submit, and to court the favor of the invaders, than to stand up boldly in defense of their province. Mr. Wilcox, a prominent politician of York or Toronto, and editor of a leading newspaper, took strong ground in favor of the Americans, but he was finally overawed by the energy and influence of Brock, and induced to offer him the use of his pen and services. Wilcox was not a hearty supporter of the British, and afterward joined the American army, in the service of which he was killed at Fort Erie. Perceiving this alarming symptom of disloyalty, and apprehending more evil than good from the presence, in a body, at the capital of these timid representatives of the people, Brock prorogued the Assembly as soon as it had passed the necessary supply bills.9 He had sought in vain for its leave to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act or to declare martial law when necessary; but, after consultation with his council, Brock resolved to do both, should certain exigencies occur. 10
Brock’s confident tone in his speech at the opening of the Legislature, and the spirit and power of his counter-proclamation, produced a marked change;11 and when, very speedily, the fall of Mackinack and the American reverses on the Detroit frontier became known, a reversal of public sentiment was so manifest that Brock was enabled to write to Sir George Prevost from York, saying, "The militia stationed here volunteered their services this morning [July 29, 1812.] to any part of the province without the least hesitation. I have selected one hundred, whom I have directed to proceed without delay to Long Point, where I propose collecting a force for the relief of Amherstburg. This example, I hope, will be followed by as many as may be required. 12
We have observed that the Americans on the banks of the Detroit were cheered by the approach of Captain Brush to the Raisin with men, cattle, provisions, and a mail, all sent forward by the vigilant and untiring Governor Meigs, of Ohio. A messenger soon bore from him to General Hull the information that a party of Indians, under Tecumtha, and possibly some British regulars, had crossed the Detroit from Malden, and were lying near Brownstown, at the mouth of the Huron River, twenty-five miles below Fort Detroit, for the purpose of seizing the treasures in charge of Brush, so precious to the little army. Brush was unwilling to risk those treasures and his small force without an escort, and he appealed to Hull to send him a detachment of men for that purpose. The general hesitated, and, when the Ohio colonels joined in a request that an escort should be sent, he flatly refused compliance. At length better counsels prevailed, and, after much persuasion, he ordered Major Thomas B. Van Horne, of Colonel Findlay’s Ohio regiment, to proceed to the Raisin with a detachment of two hundred men from that corps, to join Brush, and afford a safe convoy for the cattle, provisions, and mail. The major obeyed with alacrity. He crossed the Detroit with his command on the 4th of August, and encamped that night on the banks of the Ecorces River, where the soldiers slept on their arms. They resumed their march early on the following morning. A light fog veiled the flat country along the borders of the river. The air was still and sultry. Four spies, under Captain William M‘Cullough, preceded the troops, to watch for the enemy. They lost their way, and, while passing around a corn-field in bloom, they were fired upon by a dozen Indians who lay in ambush there. M‘Cullough fell from his horse severely wounded, and, before the detachment could reach the spot, the savages had scalped him and bore away his shining locks in triumph. His country was thus bereaved of one of the bravest and most devoted of its defenders, and the whole army sincerely mourned a real loss.
The detachment was moving very cautiously half an hour after this sad occurrence, when it was joined by some mounted militia, and a few gentlemen who had taken this opportunity to travel in safety to the Raisin. These, with Major Van Horne, stopped at the house of a Frenchman for water, and were informed by him that several hundred Indians and British soldiers were lying in ambush, near Brownstown, for the purpose of intercepting the party. Van Horne had become accustomed to alarmists, and did not credit the story. He marched on in fancied security, his front guard of twenty-four men in two columns, each column preceded by three dragoons, and the main body in the same order. The mail, with a mounted escort, was placed in the centre. Where the ground would permit, the columns marched a hundred yards apart. As they approached Brownstown the road passed through a narrow prairie skirted with thick woods, and a creek on the right. The woods on the creek came to a point toward the town, through which the road passed to the ford. On the left were corn-fields and thickets of thorn bushes; and near the creek the columns were compelled to approach each other on account of the narrowness of the way. Just as they reached its margin, and were entering upon the open ground around the village, near the house of Adam Brown, a heavy fire, at only fifty yards’ distance, was opened upon them from both sides by a large body of Indians who lay in ambush in the thickets and the woods. The attack was sudden, sharp, and deadly, and the troops were thrown into confusion. Apprehensive that he might be surrounded, Major Van Horne immediately ordered a retreat. This movement was conducted with much confusion. The Indians pursued, and a running fight was kept up for a considerable distance, the retreating Americans frequently turning upon the savage foe, and giving him deadly volleys. The retreat continued to the Ecorces, but the Indians, restrained by the prudent Tecumtha, only followed about half that distance.13 The mail was lost, and passed into the hands of the British authorities, by which most valuable information concerning the weakness and disaffection of Hull’s army was made manifest, for the officers and soldiers had written freely to their friends at home on the subject. 14 The detachment also lost seventeen killed and several wounded, who were left behind. 15
Hull was greatly disconcerted by the news of Van Horne’s repulse and loss, His colonels urged the employment of immediate and efficient measures for retrieval, and begged him to send a sufficient force to overcome any obstacles likely to be met between Detroit and the Raisin. Brush was in danger, and the army would soon need the supplies in his charge. The way between the army and Ohio must be kept open, and no time was to be lost in securing these important ends. "Send five hundred men at once," they said, "to escort Brush to Detroit." "I can spare only one hundred men," was the general’s disheartening reply. These were too few, and the enterprise was abandoned for the moment. Brush was left to the mercy of Tecumtha and his savage followers, and the needed supplies for the army were placed in imminent peril. Indignation and alarm stirred the blood of the officers.
The mutinous spirit, of which Hull afterward wrote, was now vehemently exhibited. There was plain and loud talk at head-quarters – talk which startled the general, and caused him to call a council of field officers[August 7, 1812.], the result of which was an agreement to march immediately upon Malden. Orders were issued for the medical and surgical departments to prepare for active duties in the field; for the securing of boats at Detroit; for leaving the convalescents under an officer at Sandwich, with means for crossing the river, if desired; for a raft of timber and planks for a bridge to be floated down the river; for drawing, on the morning of the 8th, by the whole army, cooked rations for three days; and for the return of "all artificers, and all men on any kind of extra duty," to their regiments immediately.
This order diffused joy throughout the little army. They believed that the hour for energetic action had come. Every man was busy in preparation; and a long summer’s day was drawing to a close, when another order from the commanding general cast a cloud of disappointment over the camp more sombre than the curtain of night that speedily fell upon it. It was an order for the army to recross the river to Detroit! – an order to abandon Canada, and leave to the vengeance of their own government the inhabitants who, confiding in Hull’s promises of protection, had refused to take up arms in defense of their invaded territory. This order was in consequence of intelligence just received that a considerable force of British regulars, militia, and Indians were coming to attack the Americans in the rear, under General Brock.
BARRACKS AT SANDWICH.
But Canada was not to be wholly abandoned. Major Denny, with one hundred and thirty convalescents and a corps of artillerists, under Lieutenant Anderson, was left "to hold possession of that part of Canada, and afford all possible protection to the well-disposed inhabitants," A strong house, belonging to one Gowris, had been stockaded, and called Fort Gowris. In this, and in a long stone building yet standing in Sandwich,16 which the American soldiers had used as barracks, the convalescents were placed, and Denny was ordered to defend the post to the last extremity against musketry, but to leave it in the event of artillery being brought against it so powerfully as to make it untenable. 17
Sullenly that humiliated army obeyed their overcautious commander, and during the night of the 7th and morning of the 8th[August, 1812.] they crossed the deep, dark, rapidly-flowing river in sadness, and encamped upon the rolling plain behind Fort Detroit. Hull’s reason for this mortifying termination of his invasion of Canada was the receipt of intelligence, as we have observed, that General Brock was hasting toward Amherstburg with re-enforcements, and the necessity of securing a permanent communication between his army and the sources of its supplies in the Ohio settlements. He accordingly dispatched six hundred men, under Lieutenant Colonel James Miller, on the afternoon of the 8th, to open a communication with the Raisin and escort Brush to Detroit. The detachment consisted of the Fourth Regiment of regulars; two small corps of the First Regiment, under Lieutenant Dixon Stansbury and Ensign Robert A. M‘Cabe; detachments from the Ohio and Michigan volunteers – the latter, sixty in number, from the "Michigan Legion," 18 mostly French, under Captain Antoine Dequindre; a corps of Captain Dyson’s artillerists, then stationed at the fort with a six-pounder, under Lieutenant John L. Eastman (who was Miller’s brigade major on this occasion), and a howitzer, under Lieutenant James Daliba; and a part of Captains Smith and Sloan’s cavalry, under the latter. Majors Van Horne and Morrison were associated with Lieutenant Colonel Miller as field officers. "Commodore" Brevoort, who was a captain of infantry, and appointed commander of any government vessels that might be placed on the lakes, and Captain A. F. Hull, the general’s son, who was afterward killed at the Battle of Niagara Falls, volunteered as aids to Lieutenant Colonel Miller. 19
The troops paraded on the north side of Jefferson Avenue, in Detroit, nearly opposite where the Exchange now stands, When placed in marching order, Lieutenant Colonel Miller rode up in front of them, and in his clear, loud voice, said to the volunteers and militia, "Soldiers, we are now going to meet the enemy, and to beat them. The reverse of the 5th (Van Horne’s) must be repaired. The blood of our brethren, spilt by the savages, must be avenged. I shall lead you. You shall not disgrace yourselves nor me. Every man who shall leave the ranks or fall back without orders will be instantly put to death. I charge the officers to execute this order." Then, turning to the veteran Fourth Regiment of regulars, he said, "My brave soldiers, you will add another victory to that of Tippecanoe – another laurel to that gained on the Wabash last fall. If there is now any man in the ranks of the detachment who fears to meet the enemy, let him fall out and stay behind." A loud huzza went up from the entire corps, and "I’ll not stay! I’ll not stay!" broke from every lip. 20
Miller led his detachment to the River Rouge that night, crossed it in two scows, and bivouacked on its southern shore, The march was resumed early in the morning. Major Thompson Maxwell,21 with the spies, led the way, followed by a vanguard of forty-men, under the high-souled Captain Snelling, of the Fourth Regulars. The infantry marched in two columns, about two hundred yards apart. The cavalry kept the road in the centre in double file. The artillery followed, and flank-guards of riflemen marched at proper distances. In this order a line of battle might be instantly formed. The march was very slow, owing to the difficulty of moving cannon over marshy ground.
At about nine in the morning – a sultry Sabbath morning – the sky overcast with clouds, and not a leaf stirring upon the trees, it became evident that an enemy was near. Several Indians, fleet of foot, were seen flying in the distance. But nothing of much interest occurred until, in the afternoon, they approached the Indian village of Maguaga, fourteen miles below Detroit, where a man named White, who, with his young son, accompanied the expedition as an amateur soldier, and in his eagerness had outstripped the spies, was shot from his horse near the cabin of the chief Walk-in-the-Water, behind which some Indians were concealed.22 He was scalped before the advance-guard could reach the spot.
It was between three and four o’clock in the afternoon when Snelling and his men reached the Oak Woods, near Maguaga. They had just entered a clearing, surrounded with an oak forest and thick bushes, near the bank of the Detroit River, when they received a terrible volley from a line of British and Indians, the former under Major Muir, of the Forty-first Regiment, and the latter under Tecumtha. This was a detachment which Proctor had sent over from Fort Malden, at Amherstburg, to Brownstown, to repeat the tragedy of the 5th (Van Horne’s defeat), cut off communication between the Raisin and Detroit, and capture the stores in charge of Captain Brush. The party consisted of about one hundred of the Forty-first Regiment, as many Canadian militia, and between two and three hundred Indians. Among the leaders of the latter were Tecumtha, Walk-in-the-Water, Lame-Hand, and Split-Log – all chiefs of note.
The flying savages, seen by the Americans in the morning, and who had been scouting for Muir, had entered the little British camp at Brownstown in hot haste, uttering the peculiar news-cry, and warning the soldiers that the enemy, strong in numbers, was advancing upon them, The camp was immediately broken up, and Muir and Tecumtha, with their followers, pressed forward to Maguaga, and formed an ambush in the Oak Woods. There they lay for several hours, awaiting the slowly-approaching Americans, and were joined by a fresh detachment from Malden, under Lieutenant Bullock, of the Forty-first Grenadiers, who had been sent by General Brock from Fort George.23 He had reached Malden the previous day, and was sent over to assist Muir and his savage allies. He took with him twenty of his grenadiers, twenty light infantry, and twenty battalion-men, The Indians occupied the left of the line. 24
A single shot on the left of the foe, then the terrible yells of scores of savages, and then a heavy volley of musketry from the whole British line, were the first intimations given to Snelling of the presence of the concealed enemy. He received and returned the fire gallantly, and maintained his position until joined by the main body. Miller’s quick ear caught the first sound of battle, and, ordering his men forward at double quick, he rode at full speed toward the field of conflict. As his troops came up and formed in battle order, he waved his sword aloft, and cried, "Charge! boys, charge!"25 The order was instantly, gallantly, and effectually obeyed; and, at the same time, a six-pounder poured in a storm of grape-shot that made sad havoc. A body of Indians, that had been detached to the left of the foe, and near the river, was driven back by an impetuous charge by Major Dequindre and his Michigan and Ohio Volunteers, 26 and fled. Their white auxiliaries, who performed but little fighting in this engagement, mistaking them for Indian allies of the Americans, fired upon them. The savages returned it with spirit, and for a few moments these friends in the same service seemed determined to annihilate each other.
The battle had now become general. This sudden blow upon the right wing, and the confusion produced by the mistake just mentioned, alarmed the centre, and the whole British line, civilized and savage, wavered. Closely pressed in front, and expecting an attack in the rear, the British regulars and Canadians broke and fled in confusion, leaving Tecumtha and his savages to bear the brunt of the battle, which they did with great obstinacy.27 Muir rallied his men, in a good position, a quarter of a mile in rear of the battle-ground, when, becoming alarmed by firing in the woods on the left, they retreated "at the double-quick," as Major Richardson said, gained their boats as speedily as possible, and sped across the river to Malden as fast as strong arms and stout oars could take them. The savages finally broke and fled, and Miller ordered Sloan to pursue them with his cavalry. That officer’s courage seemed to have been paralyzed for the moment. He stood still. The impetuous Snelling perceived it, and, rushing up to him, peremptorily ordered him to dismount, leaped upon the horse himself; and, at the head of his troops, bareheaded (his hat having been shot away in the battle), his red hair streaming in the wind, he dashed after the fugitives, and pursued them more than two miles, when the danger of an ambuscade, the necessary care of the wounded, and the approach of night, induced Lieutenant Colonel Miller to order a suspension of the chase. The rout and victory were complete. According to the British account, the loss of their regulars was twenty-four, only one of whom was killed. 28 That of the militia and Indians were never reported. Our troops found forty of the latter dead on the field. The loss of the Americans was eighteen killed and fifty-seven wounded. 29
Miller was anxious to follow up his advantage gained, and push on to the Raisin; and at sunset he dispatched a messenger to Hull reporting his success, and asking for a supply of provisions. Hull ordered Colonel M‘Arthur to take one hundred men of his regiment, and six hundred rations, and go down the river in boats for the relief of Miller. M‘Arthur embarked at a little past two in the morning[August 10, 1812.], in nine boats, and, under the cover of darkness and a drenching rain, he passed the Queen Charlotte and the Hunter, and reached his destination in safety. The wounded were immediately conveyed to the boats, but, in attempting to return by daylight, M‘Arthur found himself intercepted by the British vessels. He hastened to the shore, left the boats, conveyed the wounded through the woods to the road, and sent them to Detroit in wagons, which, with proper forecast, he had ordered down, because he anticipated this very difficulty. Colonel Cass had come down in the mean time, and attempted to secure the boats, but before he reached the shore they were seized by the British and lost.
Miller was injured by the fall from his horse at the beginning of the battle, and was so ill that he could not proceed toward the Raisin immediately. He sent to Hull for more provisions. His messenger met Cass below the River Aux Ecorces, and acquainted him with the delay. Cass knew that time was precious, for Proctor, relieved of all apprehensions of an attack upon Malden, would doubtless send over a larger force of Europeans and savages to bar the way to the Raisin, and attack Brush there. He therefore sent this laconic dispatch to Hull: "SIR, – Colonel Miller is sick; may I relieve him? – L. CASS." Receiving no reply, he returned to Detroit, meeting on his way an express bearing to Miller positive orders for the whole detachment to return to head-quarters. Thus another favorable moment for achieving great good was lost by what seemed the timidity and instability of the commanding general. Miller was only twenty-two miles from the Raisin. Dispirited in the extreme, he and his troops left their camp at noon on the day after the battle, and made their way slowly back to Detroit.
Hull’s shortcomings were freely spoken of, and the belief was inculcated among the troops that he was either traitorously inclined, or had become an imbecile. At times he would be shut up in his room 31 for hours, inaccessible to all but his son, who was his aid-de-camp; at others he appeared abstracted and confused – "sullen in deportment, and wavering in his orders." 32 His incompetency to meet the crisis at hand was felt by all, and his officers of every grade, after consultation, came to the conclusion that the salvation of the little army would only be found in depriving him of the command and giving it to another. 33 Lieutenant Colonel Miller was invited to accept it. He declined, but expressed his willingness to unite with them in giving the command to M‘Arthur, the senior officer of the volunteers, and one of the most vigilant and active soldiers in the army. It would be a bold step for subordinates to strip a commanding general of his sword and epaulets while at the head of his army, and, when they were ready to act, they naturally hesitated. Relief might speedily come from Ohio. Governor Meigs, it was suggested, might accompany it in person, and upon him the honor might properly be laid. Colonel Cass acted promptly on this suggestion, and wrote [August 12, 1812.] an energetic letter to the governor, urging him to press forward with re-enforcements and supplies.
He informed him that the army had been reduced to a critical situation "from causes not fit to be put on paper." He told him that the golden opportunity for success had passed by, and mildly remarked that, unfortunately, the general and the principal officers could not view the situation and prospect of affairs in the same light. "That Malden," he said, "might easily have been reduced, I have no doubt. . . . But instead of looking back, we must now look forward. . . . Our supplies must come from our state." He called for two thousand men at least, and added, "It is the unanimous wish of the army that you should accompany them."
Before this letter was shown to the other officers a change in affairs had taken place. The British were congregating in force at Sandwich, and, in view of this menace, the following postscript was added to the letter: "Since the other side of this letter was written, new circumstances have arisen. The British force is opposite, and our situation has nearly reached its crisis. Believe all the bearer will tell you. Believe it, however it may astonish you, as much as if told by one of us. Even a c**** is talked of by the *****. The bearer will supply the vacancy. 34 On you we depend." This was signed by Cass, Findlay, M‘Arthur, Taylor, and Colonel Elijah Brush, of the Michigan militia.
General Brock joined Proctor at Amherstburg or Malden on the night of the 13th [August, 1812.]. Relieved from civil duties on the 6th, he procured pecuniary aid from an association of gentlemen, and, with two hundred volunteers, he sailed from York for Burlington Bay, at the west end of Lake Ontario. He had been called upon to repel a formidable invasion with few troops, and without a money-chest, provisions, blankets, or even shoes for the militia whom he expected to muster into the service. Those gentlemen known as "The Niagara and Queenston Association" supplied him with several thousand pounds sterling in the form of bank-notes, which were afterward redeemed with army bills. He had sent forty of the Forty-first Regiment to Long Point, on Lake Erie, to gather the militia there, and fifty more of the same regiment were sent to the Indians in the interior, to induce them to engage in the expedition. On his way across the country he held a council [August 7.] at the Mohawk settlement on the Grand River, and sixty warriors promised to join him on the 10th.
With his few regulars and three hundred militia, Brock embarked in boats, batteaux, and canoes (supplied by the neighboring farmers) at Long Point[August 8.], and, after a rough voyage of five days and nights, nearly two hundred miles in extent, he reached Amherstburg a little before midnight of the 13th. The patient endurance of his troops delighted him. He was welcomed by a feu de joie of musketry from Tecumtha and his band on Bois Blanc Island, before Amherstburg. Half an hour afterward that warrior was brought over by Colonel Elliot, the Indian agent whom we have already spoken of (who lived near Amherstburg), and Brock was introduced to the great chief of the Shawnoese. 35 It being late, the conference was short, and they parted with the understanding that a council would be called immediately. Brock held a conference with the Indians on the morning of the 14th. About one thousand were present. The general opened the interview by informing them that he had come to assist them in driving the Americans from Detroit and their rightful hunting-grounds north of the Ohio. His speech was highly applauded by Tecumtha, who replied in an eloquent and sagacious manner, and gave Brock a high opinion of his genius. 36 Not deeming it prudent to reveal too much of his plan of operations to the assembled savages, the latter invited Tecumtha, with a few old chiefs, to Colonel Elliott’s quarters, and there he laid the whole matter before them. The chiefs listened with great attention, and assured Brock that he should have their cordial co-operation. In reply to his question whether the warriors could be restrained from drinking whisky, Tecumtha replied that, before leaving their country on the Wabash, they had promised him that they would not taste a drop of the fire-water until they had humbled the big-knives – the Americans – and that they might be relied on. 37
Brock had issued a general order early in the morning of the 14th, in which he calmed the fears of those inhabitants who had deserted from the British army, or had taken protections from Hull, by expressing his willingness to believe that their conduct proceeded more from their anxiety to get in their harvests than from "any predilection for the principles and government of the United States." This ingenious offer of amnesty by implication was sent out upon the roads northward, and was accepted by the great body of the inhabitants, who were alarmed and exasperated by Hull’s desertion of them; and when, on the same day, Brock marched from Malden to Sandwich, he passed through a country of friends.
Major Denny had already evacuated Fort Gowris[August 11, 1812.], and, with the convalescents and troops under his command, had crossed the river to Detroit. The American camp at Sandwich and vicinity was immediately taken possession of by British troops, under Captain Dixon, of the Royal Engineers (whom we shall meet at Fort Stephenson), and a battery was planted so as to command Detroit. The American artillerists begged permission to open upon them from the fort with twenty-four pounders, 38 but Hull would not grant it, and the enemy was allowed to complete his preparations for reducing the fort without molestation. The brave Captain Snelling asked permission to go over in the night and take the works, but Hull would listen to no propositions of the kind. He seemed unwilling to injure or exasperate the enemy.
That General Hull had determined to surrender Detroit, under certain contingencies, rather than risk an engagement with, or a protracted siege by the British and Indians, at least two or three days before that deed was accomplished, the careful student of the history of that affair can not doubt. All of his movements indicate this, according to the positive testimony given by M‘Afee, and ofColonel Stanley Hatch’s narrative, already cited. Hatch was Hull’s assistant quartermaster general. Hull seemed convinced that, under all the circumstances, the post would be untenable against such a force as the enemy might bring to bear upon it, unless his communication with Ohio might be kept up. Dearborn had failed to make any diversions in his favor on the Niagara or at Kingston, as he had been directed to do. 39 His communication with Ohio (his only source of supply), lying beyond a trackless wilderness two hundred miles away, was cut off. His provisions, he thought, were becoming too scarce to warrant the risk of a protracted siege, and an intercepted letter from Proctor to Roberts at Mackinack threatened a descent of five thousand Indians from that region. Hemmed in on every side, and his force wasting with disease, disappointment, and death, his kindness of heart, and the growing caution incident to old age, made him timid and fearful. He did not know that the letter from Proctor at Malden had been sent for the purpose of interception to alarm him. 40 He did not know that a large portion of Brock’s troops, reported to him as regulars, were only the militia of Long Point and vicinity, dressed in scarlet uniforms to deceive him. 41 He was too honest (whatever may be said of his military sagacity) to suspect deceptions of this kind, and he sincerely believed that his little army would be exterminated by the savages should he exasperate them by shedding their blood. "A man of another mould, full of resolution and resource," says Ingersoll, "might have triumphed over the time-serving negligence of his own government, and the bold resistance of an enemy who could not fail to perceive that he had a feeble and dismayed antagonist to deal with." 42
On the 14th General Hull sent a message to Captain Brush informing him that a sufficient detachment to escort him to head-quarters could not then be spared, and directing him to remain where he was until farther orders, or, if he thought best, to attempt a forward movement by a circuitous and more inland route, after consulting with Colonel Anderson and Captain Jobard, the bearers of the letter.43 Toward the evening of the same day, he changed his mind, and concluded to send a detachment to escort Brush to Detroit. He communicated his plan to Colonels M‘Arthur and Cass, who not only approved of it, but volunteered to perform the duty. They were permitted to choose three hundred and fifty men from their respective regiments. M‘Arthur, as senior officer, took the command; and they left in haste in the evening without a sufficient supply of provisions for a protracted absence, or even of blankets for repose in resting, for they were assured that they would doubtless meet Brush between the Rouge and Huron, and not more than twelve miles distant. When they remonstrated because they were dispatched with a scanty supply of provisions, Hull promised to send more after them on pack-horses. But Brush’s orders left it optional with him to remain or move forward. He was not found on the way, nor were provisions received from Hull as promised.
The detachment under M‘Arthur and Cass crossed the Rouge that evening[August 14, 1812.], and the next day pushed forward by a circuitous route toward the head waters of the Huron, twenty-four miles from Detroit, when they became entangled in a swamp, and could proceed no farther. Half famished and greatly fatigued by their march through the forest, they had prepared to bivouac for the night, when, just as the evening twilight was fading away, a courier arrived with a summons from Hull to return immediately to Detroit. 44 The order was obeyed, and they approached head-quarters the next day at about ten o’clock in the morning. Meanwhile affairs at Detroit had reached a crisis.
On the morning of the 15th of August, General Hull pitched his marquee in the centre of his camp, near the fort. It was the first time since the 4th of July that it had made its appearance, and much attention and remark was elicited by it, especially because its top was ornamented with red and blue stripes, which made it conspicuous among the tents.45 The British had been in considerable force on the opposite shore since the 13th, and had been permitted to throw up intrenchments, and to plant a battery for two eighteen-pounders and an eight-inch howitzer in a position to command the town and fort, notwithstanding the latter was armed with twenty-eight pieces of heavy ordnance, which the artillerists were anxious to use in driving the enemy from his works. When his preparations for attack were completed, General Brock, at little past meridian on the 15th, sent Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell and Major Glegg from Sandwich, with a flag, to bear to General Hull a summons for the unconditional surrender of the post. "The force at my disposal," said Brock, "authorizes me to require of you the surrender of Detroit. It is far from my inclination to join in a war of extermination, but you must be aware that the numerous body of Indians who have attached themselves to my troops will be beyond my control the moment the contest commences." 46
This covert threat of letting loose the blood-thirsty savages upon the town and garrison of Detroit deeply impressed the commanding general with contending emotions. His pride of character, and his patriotism, for which all venerated him, bade him fight; his fear of the consequences to the army and the inhabitants under his charge bade him surrender. His whole effective force then at his disposal did not exceed one thousand men,47 and the fort was thronged with trembling women, and children, and decrepit old men of the town and surrounding country, who had fled thither to escape the blow of the tomahawk and the keen blade of the scalping-knife. For full two hours he kept the flag waiting while revolving in his mind what to do. His troops were confident in their ability to successfully confront the enemy, and were eager to measure strength with him; and at length Hull mustered resolution sufficient to say to Brock, "I have no other reply to make than to inform you that I am ready to meet any force which may be at your disposal, and any consequences which may result from its execution in any way you may think proper to use it." He added, apologetically, that a certain flag of truce, sent to Malden at about the time Colonel Cass fell upon the British and Indians at the Aux Canards, proceeded contrary to his orders; and that the destruction of Gowris’s house at Sandwich was also contrary to his orders. 48
Hull’s response to Brock, when made known, was welcomed by the troops with the most lively satisfaction; and when the flag touched the Canada shore, the bearers were startled by a loud huzza from the fort at Detroit and the adjacent camp. The time for trial, and, as Hull’s little army believed, of victory for them, was at hand, and the most active preparations to meet the foe was seen on every side. Major Jesup rode down to Spring Wells to reconnoitre the enemy at Sandwich. He was satisfied, from the position which the Queen Charlotte had taken, that the British intended to land at that place under cover of her guns. Having selected a commanding point for a battery from which that vessel might possibly be driven away, he hastened back to head-quarters, and requested Hull to send down a twenty-pounder for the purpose. Hull refused. Jesup returned to Spring Wells, where he found Captain Snelling, with a few men and a six-pounder, occupying the place he had selected for his battery. They perceived that the greater part of the British forces were at Sandwich, and both hastened to head-quarters. Jesup now asked for one hundred and fifty men to go over and spike the enemy’s guns opposite Detroit. Hull said he could not spare so many. "Give me one hundred, then," said the brave Jesup. "Only one hundred," said Snelling, imploringly. "I will think of it," was Hull’s reply; and soon afterward he took refuge in the fort, for at four o’clock in the afternoon the British battery of five guns opposite, under the direction of Captain Dixon, of the Royal Engineers, opened upon the town, the fort, and the camp, with shot and shell. All the troops, except Findlay’s regiment, which was stationed three hundred yards northwest of the fort, were ordered within the walls, crowding the work far beyond its capacity.49
The British kept up their cannonade and bombardment until toward midnight.50 The fire was returned with great spirit, and two of the enemy’s guns were silenced and disabled. 51 At evening twilight it was suggested to Hull that as the fort did not command the river, a strong battery might be placed near the margin of the stream, so as to destroy the enemy as fast as they should attempt to land. An eligible point for the purpose, in the direction of Spring Wells, was selected, but the general, whose mind seemed to have been benumbed from the moment the enemy’s battery was opened, would listen to no suggestions of the kind; and when that enemy, in full force, crossed the river during the early morning of the 16th – a calm and beautiful Sabbath morning – completing the passage in the matin twilight, they were allowed to land without the least molestation from ball or bullet. Colonels Elliott and M‘Kee, with Tecumtha, had crossed during the night two miles below, with six hundred Indians, and taken position in the woods to attack the Americans on flank and rear, should they attempt to dispute the debarkation of the regulars and militia, who numbered seven hundred and seventy men, with five pieces of light artillery. 52 When all had breakfasted, the invaders moved toward the fort; the white troops in a single column, their left flank covered by the Indians, who kept in the woods a mile and a half distant. Their right rested on the Detroit River, and was covered by the guns of the Queen Charlotte.
Lieutenant Colonel Miller, with the 4th Regiment, was now in the fort; and the Ohio Volunteers and part of the Michigan militia were posted behind the town palisades, so as to annoy the enemy’s whole left flank. The remainder of the militia were stationed in the upper part of the town, to resist the incursions of the Indians, whose chief motive in joining the British standard was plunder, and the free and safe indulgence of their ferocity. Two twenty-four-pounders had been placed in battery on an eminence from which they could sweep the advancing column.53 The American force was considerably less than that of the British, white and red combined, but their position was much superior. They had four hundred rounds of twenty-four-pound shot fixed; about one hundred thousand cartridges prepared; ample provisions for fifteen days and more approaching, and no lack of arms and loose ammunition. 54
The invaders advanced cautiously, and had reached a point within five hundred yards of the American line, near the site of Governor Woodbridge’s residence, at the crossing of the Central Railroad, when General Hull sent a peremptory order for his soldiers to retreat into the fort. The troops were astounded and bewildered. Confident in their ability to repulse and probably capture the invaders, they were eager for the order to begin the contest. "Not a sign of discontent broke upon the ear; not a look of cowardice met the eye. Every man expected a proud day for his country, and each was anxious that his individual exertion should contribute to the general result."55 Like true soldiers they obeyed, but not without loud and fearless expression of their indignation, and their contempt for the commanding general. Many of them, high-spirited young men from the best families in Ohio, showed symptoms of positive mutiny at first; and the twenty-four-pounder would have poured a destructive storm of grape-shot upon the advancing column, notwithstanding the humiliating order, had not Lieutenant Anderson, who commanded the guns, acting under the general’s direction, forcibly restrained them. He was anxious to reserve his fire until the approaching column should be in the best position to receive the most destructive volleys. The guns were heavily charged with grape-shot, and would have sent terrible messengers to many of the "red-coats," as the scarlet-dressed British were generally termed. The eager artillerists were about to apply the match too soon, when Anderson sprang forward, with drawn sword, and threatened to cut down the first man who should disobey his orders.
The infuriated soldiers entered the already over-crowded fort, while the enemy, after reconnoitring the fort and discovering the weakness of the fortification on the land side, prepared to storm it. But, before they could form for the purpose, the occasion had ceased. The fire from the battery on the Canada shore, kept up slowly since dawn, had become very vigorous. Up to this time no casualty had resulted from it within the fort. Now a ball came bounding over the fort wall, dealing death in its passage. A group standing at the door of one of the officers’ quarters were almost annihilated. Captain Hancks, of Mackinaw, Lieutenant Sibley, and Dr. Reynolds, who accompanied Hull’s invalids from the Maumee to Detroit, were instantly killed, and Dr. Blood was severely wounded. Two other soldiers were killed almost immediately afterward by another ball; and still two others on the outside of the fort were slain.
Many women and children were in the house where the officers were slain. Among them were General Hull’s daughter and her children. Some of the women were petrified with affright, and were carried senseless to the bomb-proof vault for safety. Several of them were bespattered with blood; and the general, who saw the effects of the ball from a distance, knew not whether his own child was slain or not. These casualties, the precursors of future calamities, almost unmanned him, and he paced the parade backward and forward in the most anxious frame of mind. At that moment an officer from the Michigan militia in the town, who had observed the steady approach of the enemy without a gun being fired from the fort or the twenty-four pounders outside, came in haste to inquire whether it was the intention of the general to allow that body alone to defend the place; also to inform him that the British and Indians were at the tan-yard, close upon the town. The general made no reply, but, stepping into a room in the barracks, he prepared a note hastily, handed it to his son, Captain Hull, and directed him to display a white flag immediately from the walls of the fort,56 where it might be seen by Captain Dixon over the river. 57 This was done. The firing soon ceased, and in a few minutes Captain Hull was "unexpectedly seen emerging from the fort" 58 with a flag of truce. At the same time, a boat, with a flag, was dispatched to the commander of the battery on the Canada shore.
Captain Hull bore proposals for an immediate capitulation. He soon returned with Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donell and Major Glegg, who were authorized by Brock to negotiate the terms of surrender. The white flag upon the walls had awakened painful suspicions; the arrival of these officers announced the virtual betrayal of the garrison. Hull had asked no man’s advice, nor suggested to any the possibility of a surrender.59 His act was quick, and as unexpected as a thunderbolt from a clear sky. Not a shot had been fired upon the enemy – not an effort to stay his course had been made. For a moment nothing but reverence for gray hairs, and veneration for a soldier of the Revolution, saved the commander from personal violence at the hands of his incensed people. Many of the soldiers, it is said, shed tears of mortification and disappointment.
The terms of capitulation were soon agreed to,60 and the American commander issued a general order saying that it was "with pain and anxiety" that he announced to the Northwest Army that he had been compelled, from a sense of duty, to agree to articles of capitulation which were appended to the averment. He then sent a messenger with a note to Colonel M‘Arthur (who, with Colonel Cass and the detachment sent toward the Raisin, were, as we have seen, hastening back to Detroit) informing him of the surrender, and that he and his command were included in the capitulation as prisoners of war. 61 They had arrived in sight of Detroit at about the time when the American white flags had silenced the British cannon, 62 thoroughly exhausted by rapid and fatiguing marches and lack of food, for they had tasted nothing for more than forty-eight hours, excepting some green pumpkins and potatoes found in the fields. They had observed the enemy, and the ease with which, in connection with the army at Detroit, they might capture him by falling upon his rear. But all was silent. That fact was a sealed enigma. There were two armies within half cannon-shot of each other, and yet, to the ears of these listeners, they both seemed as silent as the grave. Had there been firing, or any signs of resistance, M‘Arthur would have fallen upon the rear of the invaders even without orders. But all was mystery until the arrival of Hull’s courier with the unwelcome tidings.
M‘Arthur attempted to communicate with Hull, but failed. He sent a message to Captain Brush with Hull’s note, saying, "By the within letter you will see that the army under General Hull has been surrendered. By the articles you will see that provision has been made for the detachment under your command; you will therefore, I hope, return to Ohio with us."63
At sunset Colonel Elliott came to M‘Arthur from the fort with the articles of capitulation, and with authority from Brock to receive tokens of the submission of the detachment. The dark, lustrous eyes of M‘Arthur flashed with indignation at the demand. As they filled with tears of deepest mortification, he thrust his sword into the ground, and broke it in pieces, and then tore his epaulettes from his shoulders. This paroxysm of feeling was soon succeeded by dignified calmness; and in the dim twilight M‘Arthur and Cass, with their whole detachment, were marched into the fort, where the arms of the soldiers were stacked. Before the curtain of night had been fairly drawn over the humiliating scene the act of capitulation and surrender was completed – an act which produced universal mortification and intense indignation throughout the country.64 In less than two months after war was declared, and the favorite scheme of an invasion of the enemy’s provinces had been set in motion, a strong military post, a spirited army, and a magnificent territory, with all its inhabitants, 65 had been given up without an effort to save them, or a moment’s waiting for the arrival of powerful re-enforcements and ample supplies, then on their way from the southward. About two thousand men in all 66 became prisoners of war. These consisted of two squadrons of cavalry, one company of artillery, the 4th United States Regiment, and detachments from the 1st and 3d; three regiments of Ohio Volunteers, and one regiment of the Michigan militia. The British obtained by this capitulation (for it was not a victory) a large amount of arms, ammunition, and stores, all of which, especially arms, were greatly needed in Upper Canada. 67 It was a godsend to the provinces in every aspect. The surrender caused months of delay before another invading army could be brought into the field, and thus gave the British time for preparation; and it secured the friendship and alliance of savage tribes, who, as usual, were ready to join whatever side seemed to be the stronger party, and safest as an ally. 68 At the same hour the next day (Monday, the 17th) General Brock and his staff, with other officers, appeared in full uniform, and in their presence a salute was fired from the esplanade in front of the fort, with one of the brass cannon included in the capitulation. It bore the following inscription: "TAKEN AT SARATOGA ON THE 17TH OF OCTOBER, 1777." When the British officers saw this, they were so delighted that some of them greeted the old British captive, now released, with kisses; and one of them remarked to Colonel Hatch, from whose manuscript narrative I have gained the facts, "we must have an addition put to that inscription, namely, ‘RETAKEN AT DETROIT AUGUST 16, 1812.’ " 69 The salute was answered by Dixon’s battery on the Canada shore, and by the Queen Charlotte, which came sweeping up the middle of the river from the waters between Spring Wells and Sandwich, and took position directly in front of the town. 70
It was on this occasion that General Brock paid marked respect to Tecumtha. He took off his own rich crimson silk sash and publicly placed it round the waist of the chief. Tecumtha received it with dignity and great satisfaction; but the following day he appeared without the badge of honor. Brock apprehended that some offense had been given to the chief, but, on inquiry, he found that Tecumtha, with great modesty and with the most delicate exhibition of praise, had placed the sash upon the body of Round Head, a celebrated and remarkable Wyandot warrior, saying, "I do not want to wear such a mark of distinction, when an older and abler warrior than myself is present."
The volunteers and militia who were made prisoners, and some minor regular officers, were permitted to return home on parole. Those of Michigan were discharged at Detroit, and the Ohio Volunteers were borne in vessels to Cleveland, from which point they made their way home. General Hull and the regulars were held as prisoners of war, and sent to Montreal. They were taken to Malden, and there embarked on board the Queen Charlotte, Hunter, and other public vessels, and conveyed to Fort Erie, opposite Buffalo. From that point they were marched to Fort George, where they were again placed in vessels and sent to Kingston. From that post they were escorted by land to Montreal.
General Hull and his fellow-prisoners reached Fort George, on the Niagara, on the 26th of August, when the commander immediately wrote a lengthy report of the surrender and attendant events, but was not permitted to forward it, until his arrival at Montreal.71 Information of the disaster had already reached General Van Rensselaer, at Lewiston, and he had promptly sent the news by express to General Dearborn, the senior commander in the army, whose head-quarters at that time were at Greenbush, opposite Albany, on the Hudson River.
For this important errand Van Rensselaer employed Captain Darby Noon, the leader of a fine company of Albany Volunteers, who were then stationed at or near Fort Niagara. Captain Noon was a man of great energy, and he performed the service in an incredibly short space of time. He rode express all the way, changing his horses by impressing them when necessary, assuring the owners of remuneration from the government. He neither slept on the way, nor tasted food, excepting what he ate on horseback. When he arrived at Greenbush, he was so much exhausted that he had to be lifted from his horse, and he was compelled to remain in his bed for several days.72
On the day of the surrender[August 16, 1812.], General Brock issued a proclamation to the inhabitants of Michigan, in which they were assured of protection in life, property, and religious observances, and were called upon to give up all public property in the Territory. Having made arrangements for the civil and military occupation of the Territory, and leaving Colonel Proctor in command of a garrison of two hundred and fifty men at Detroit, he hastened back to York, where he arrived on the 27th [August.], and was received with the greatest enthusiasm by the people, who regarded him as the savior of the province. In the short space of nineteen days he had met the Legislature, arranged the public affairs of the province, traveled about three hundred miles to confront an invader, and returned the possessor of that invader’s whole army and a vast territory, about equal in area to Upper Canada. Henceforth, during his brief career, he was the idol of the Canadians, and the Prince Regent, representing the majesty of Great Britain, created him a baronet [October 10.]. 73
While General Hull was on his way toward Montreal, Colonel Cass, at the request of Colonel M‘Arthur, was hasting to Washington City, "for the purpose," as he said, "of communicating to the government such particulars respecting the expedition lately commanded by Brigadier General Hull, and its disastrous results, as might enable them correctly to appreciate the conduct of the officers and men, and to develop the causes which produced so foul a stain upon the national character."74 This communication was made in writing on the 10th of September, in which was given an outline history of events near Detroit, from the landing in Canada until the surrender. It exhibited much warmth of feeling, and its circulation in print prejudiced the public mind against Hull, and intensified the indignant reproaches which the first intelligence of the surrender had caused to be hurled at the head of the unfortunate general. It also diverted public attention for the moment from the palpable inefficiency of the War Department, 75 the effects of the armistice, and the injurious delays of General Dearborn, 76 to which much of the disaster should properly be charged. Colonel Cass’s opinions, as well as facts, were eagerly accepted by the excited public as veritable history, and few had words of palliation to offer for the captive veteran when they read the following glowing, dogmatic words at the conclusion of the young colonel’s letter: "To see the whole of our men, flushed with the hope of victory, eagerly awaiting the approaching contest – to see them afterward dispirited, hopeless, and desponding, at least five hundred shedding tears, because they were not allowed to meet their country’s foe and to fight their country’s battles, excited sensations which no American has ever before had cause to feel, and which, I trust in God, will never again be felt while our men remain to defend the standard of the Union. . . . . . Confident I am that, had the courage and conduct of the general been equal to the spirit and zeal of the troops, the event would have been as brilliant and successful as it is disastrous and dishonorable. 77
General Hull and his fellow-captives arrived at Montreal on Sunday afternoon, the 6th of September, and attracted much attention. The prisoners numbered, rank and file, three hundred and fifty. They were escorted from Kingston by one hundred and thirty men, under Major Heathcote, of the Newfoundland Regiment. At Cornwall, opposite St. Regis, they were met by Captain Gray, of the Quarter-master’s department, who took formal charge of the prisoners. They had other escorts of troops until they reached the vicinity of Montreal, when they were left in charge of the militia until preparations could be made for the formal entrance into the city. This was not accomplished until quite late in the evening, when they were marched in in the presence of a great concourse of rejoicing people, who had illuminated the streets through which the triumphal procession passed. General Hull was received with great politeness by Sir George Prevost, the Governor General and Commander-in-chief; and invited to make his residence at his mansion during his stay in Montreal. On Thursday following[September 10, 1812.], General Hull and eight of his officers set out for the United States on their parole.
General Hull retired to his farm at Newton, Massachusetts, from which he was summoned to appear before a court-martial at Philadelphia on the 25th of February, 1813, of which General Wade Hampton was appointed president. The members appointed consisted of three brigadier generals, nine colonels, and three lieutenant colonels; and the eminent A. J. Dallas, of Pennsylvania, was judge advocate. This court was dissolved by the President without giving a reason for the act; and, almost a year afterward, Hull was summoned to appear before another, to convene at Albany, New York. It met on the 3d of January, 1814. General Dearborn was the president, and he was assisted by three brigadier generals, four colonels, and five lieutenant colonels.78 Again Mr. Dallas was judge advocate. As Hull blamed Dearborn for his negligence, and as his own acquittal would condemn that officer, he might very properly have objected to the appointed president of the court; but he was anxious for a trial, and he waived all feeling. He was charged with treason, cowardice, and neglect of duty and unofficer-like conduct from the 9th of April to the 16th of August, 1812. 79 General Hull objected to the jurisdiction of the court on the first charge – treason – as a matter of civil cognizance only. The court concurred in this view, and he was tried only on the other charges. After a session of eighty days, the court decided [March 26.] that he was not guilty of treason, 80 but found him guilty of the second and third charges, namely, cowardice, and neglect of duty and unofficer-like conduct. He was sentenced to be shot dead, and his name to be struck from the rolls of the army. 81 The court strongly recommended him to the mercy of the President, on account of his age and his revolutionary services. Mr. Madison pardoned him, and he retired to his farm, to live in comparative obscurity, under a cloud of almost universal reproach, for about twelve years. He wrote a vindication of his conduct in the campaign of 1812, in a series of letters, published in the American Statesman newspaper in Boston, 82 and on his dying bed he declared his belief that he was right, as a soldier and a man, in surrendering Detroit. He had the consolation of feeling, before his death, a growing sympathy for him in the partially disabused public mind, which prophesied of future vindication and just appreciation. 83
I have given, in this and the preceding chapter, as faithful a general history of Hull’s campaign as a careful and dispassionate study of documentary and other contemporaneous narratives, written and verbal, have enabled me to do. I have recorded what I believe to be undoubted facts. As they stand in the narrative, unattended by analysis, comparison, or argument, they present General Hull in his conduct of the campaign in some instances in an unfavorable light: not as a traitor – not as an actual coward, but as bearing to the superficial reader the semblance of both. But, after weighing and estimating the value of these facts in connection with current circumstances to which they bore positive relationship – after observing the composition of the court-martial, the peculiar relations of the court and the witnesses to the accused, and the testimony in detail, the writer is constrained to believe that General Hull was actuated throughout the campaign by the purest impulses of patriotism and humanity. That he was weak, we may allow; that he was wicked, we can not believe. His weakness, evinced at times by vacillation, was not the child of cowardice, but of excessive prudence and caution, born of the noblest sentiments of the human heart. These, in his case, were doubtless enhanced by the disabilities of waning physical vigor.84 He was thus far down the western slope of life, when men counsel more than act. The perils and fatigues of the journey from Dayton to Detroit had affected him, and the anxieties arising from his responsibilities bore heavily upon his judgment. These difficulties his young, vigorous, ambitious, daring officers could not understand; and while they were cursing him, they should have been kindly cherishing him. When he could perceive no alternative but surrender or destruction, he bravely determined to choose the most courageous and humane course; so he faced the taunts of his soldiers, and the expected scorn of his countrymen, rather than fill the beautiful land of the Ohio, and the settlements of Michigan, with mourning.
Hull had warned the government of the folly of attempting the conquest of Canada without better preparation. But the young hot-bloods of the administration – Clay, and others – could not wait; and the President and his Cabinet, lacking all the essential knowledge for planning a campaign, had sent him on an errand of vast importance and difficulty without seeming to comprehend its vastness, or estimating the means necessary for its accomplishment. The conception of the campaign was a huge blunder, and Hull saw it; and the failure to put in vigorous motion for his support auxiliary and co-operative forces, was criminal neglect. When the result was found to be failure and humiliation, the administration perceived this, and sought a refuge. Public indignation must be appeased – the lightning of the public wrath must be averted. General Hull was made the chosen victim for the peace-offering – the sin-bearing scape-goat; and on his head the fiery thunderbolts were hurled. The grass has grown greenly upon his grave for more than forty years. Let his faults (for, like all men, he was not immaculate) also be covered with the verdure of blind Charity.85 Two generations have passed away since the dark cloud first brooded over his fair fame. We may all see, if we will, with eyes unfilmed by prejudice, the silver edging which tells of the brightness of good intentions behind it, and prophesies of evanishment and a clear sky. Let History be just, in spite of the clamors of hoary Error.
" ’Tis strange how many unimagined charges
Can swarm upon a man, when once the lid
Of the Pandora-box of contumely
Is open’d o’er his head." – SHAKSPEARE.
1 Hull’s Campaign of 1812, page 58.
2 Letter of Mr. M‘Kenzie, of the Northwest Company, at Fort William, to Mr. M‘Intosh, of Sandwich, July 19, 1812, cited by Hull in his Campaign of 1812, page 59.
3 Hull’s Campaign of 1812, page 60.See note 3, page 260 of this work.
4 In a letter to Sir George Prevost, written December 3, 1811, after hearing of the Tippecanoe affair, he said: "My first care, on my arrival in this province, was to direct the officers of the Indian Department at Amherstburg to exert their whole influence with the Indians to prevent the attack which I understood a few tribes meditated against the American frontier."
5 Letters to Sir George Prevost, July 3 and 25, 1812, cited by Tupper In his Life of Brock, pages 171 and 198.
6 Letter of Brock to Sir George Prevost, July 3, 1812.
7 Brock was very anxious to capture Fort Niagara, but was restrained by his superior. Sir George Prevost believed it to be a party war, and was unwilling to do that which might rouse the national spirit of the Americans, and unite both parties against the British. He believed that the war party could not carry on hostilities long. He therefore commanded Brock to act strictly on the defensive.
8 Hull, as we have seen, invaded Canada and issued his proclamation on the 12th of July, but it was not until the 15th that Lieutenant Colonel St. George wrote to General Brock on the subject. "It is strange," said the latter, "that three days should be allowed to elapse before sending to acquaint me of this important fact. Hull’s insidious proclamation,"* he continued, "herewith inclosed, has already been productive of considerable effect on the minds of the people. In fact, a general sentiment prevails that, with the present force, resistance is unavailing. I shall continue to exert myself to the utmost to overcome every difficulty." – Brock to Prevost, Fort George, July 20, 1812.
* The editor of the Life and Correspondence of Sir Isaac Brock, speaking of the invasion, says, "Brigadier General Hull issued on that day the following insidious but able proclamation, which was doubtless written at Washington," – See Life, etc., page 185.
9 Tupper’s Life and Correspondence of Brock, page 203.
10 Sir George Prevost seemed to have had similar difficulties in the lower province. On the 31st of July he wrote to General Brock, saying, "I believe you are authorized by the commission under which you administer the government of Upper Canada to declare martial law, in the event of invasion or insurrection; it is therefore for you to consider whether you can obtain any thing equivalent to that power from your Legislature. I have not succeeded in obtaining a modification of it in Lower Canada, and must, therefore, upon the occurrence of either of those calamities, declare the law martial unqualified, and, of course, shut the doors of the courts of civil law."
11 Brock’s proclamation, issued from Fort George, was calculated to arouse both the pride and the resentment of those Canadians who were of the American refugee families. In allusion to Hull, he said, "He has thought proper to invite his majesty’s subjects not only to a quiet and unresisting submission, but insults them with a call to seek voluntarily the protection of his government." Referring to Hull’s assertion of the tyranny of the British government, Brock asked, "Where is the Canadian subject who can truly affirm to himself that he has been injured by the government in his person, his property, or his liberty? Where is to be found, in any part of the world, a growth so rapid in prosperity and wealth as this colony exhibits? Settled not thirty years, by a band of veterans exiled from their former possessions on account of their loyalty, not a descendant of these brave people is to be found who, under the fostering liberality of their sovereign, has not acquired a property and means of enjoyment superior to what were possessed by their ancestors." He then warned them of the immense advantages which they would lose by a separation from Great Britain, the greatest maritime nation on the globe, their exclusion from the ocean by being a Territory of the United States, and the danger of becoming reannexed to France when once estranged from the protection of Great Britain. "Are you prepared," he said, "inhabitants of Canada, to become willing subjects, or, rather, slaves to the despot who rules the nations of Continental Europe with a rod of iron? If not, arise in a body; exert your energies; cooperate cordially with the king’s regular forces to repel the invader; and do not give cause to your children, when groaning under the oppression of a foreign master, to reproach you with having so easily parted with the richest inheritance of this earth – a participation in the name, character, and freedom of Britons!" He assured them that if, by this sudden war, and a lack of aid, his majesty’s arms should he obliged to yield, the province would not be abandoned, and that no peace would be made with the United States of which the restoration of the Canadas to Great Britain should not make the most prominent condition. He then alluded to Hull’s threat of "no quarter" for those who should be found fighting with the Indians. He pointed to the aborigines, whose property, like that of the white people, was in danger. "By what new principle," he said, "are they to be prohibited from defending their property? If their warfare, from being different from that of the white people, be more terrific than the enemy, let him retrace his steps. They seek him not, and can not expect to find women and children in an invading army." Hull’s threat was denounced as inhuman; and assurance was given that its execution would be considered "as deliberate murder, for which every subject of the offending power must make expiation."
12 Tupper’s Life and Correspondence of Brock, page 207.
13 For his gallantry in this campaign, Major Van Horne, while a prisoner on parole, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Twenty-sixth Regular Infantry, and was transferred to the Nineteenth in 1814. He was disbanded in June, 1815.
14 The battle-ground was about five miles below the present village of Trenton, in Michigan.
15 Among the killed were Captains William M‘Cullough, Robert Gilchrist, Henry Ulery, and Jacob Boerstler; Lieutenant Jacob Pentz, and Surgeons Edward Roby and Andrew Allison. – M‘Afee, page 74. Hull’s Letter to the Secretary of War, dated Sandwich, August 7, 1812.
16 This building was erected for a school in 1807 or 1808. It was in a dilapidated state when I sketched it in the autumn of 1860. It occupies an open space in the village of Sandwich. Several poor families occupied it. The place known as Spring Wells is opposite, and indicated inour little sketch by the buildings with tall chimneys, from which columns of smoke are rising. These compose the copper smelting-works at Spring Wells. A long wharf on the Sandwich side of the river is seen toward the right of the position. The British picketed this building, and used it for barracks in 1813.
17 M‘Afee, page 77.
18 This "Legion" had been organized during the winter of 1811-’12, as a home guard against the Indians, who were then menacing the Michigan settlers. They were mustered into the volunteer service under the act of February 6, 1812. The "Legion" was composed of one company of dragoons, commanded by Captain Richard Smythe, and three companies of infantry, commanded respectively by Captains Antoine Dequindre, Stephen Mack, and Hubert la Croix.
19 Hull’s letter to the Secretary of War, August 13, 1812; Judge Witherell’s paper on the Battle of Monguagen, read before the Michigan Historical Society in the spring of 1859.
20 Judge Witherell.
21 Major Maxwell was well known in Detroit. He had been a soldier in the French and Indian War, and was one of the survivors of the battle at Bloody Bridge, just above Detroit, in "Pontiac’s War." He was a brave soldier in the Revolution. He was with Wayne on his campaigns, and followed Miller upon the heights at the battle of Niagara Falls (Lundy’s Lane) when he took the British battery on the crown. He died on the River Rouge about the year 1834. – Judge Witherell.
22 Walk-in-the-Water’s residence at Maguaga was on the land afterward owned by Major Biddle, and on which he built his farm-houses. Judge Witherell says, "I knew him well in my boyhood. He was then a man past middle age, with a fine, commanding person, near six feet in height and well-proportioned, and as straight as an arrow. He was mild and pleasant in his deportment." The chief was friendly to the United States, and desired to join them at the beginning of the war; but the instructions of his government not to employ savages and his own humane impulses would not allow Hull to accept his services. They were soon exposed to the attacks of the British and their savage allies; and as the United States could give them no protection, Walk-in-the-Water and his band of Wyandots joined the British at Malden. Their hands were in that service, but the heart of the chief was not there. Walk-in-the-Water died about the year 1817. His totem or arms was a turtle.
Walk-in-the-Water was a Huron, of the Wyandot tribe. His Indian name was My-ee-rah, and he was among the most active of the chiefs with Tecumtha in the War of 1812. Far-he, or King Crane, the grand chief of the Wyandots, resided at Sandusky. We shall meet Walk-In-the-Water again, at the River Raisin and the Thames.
23 The entire British force at Monguaga, including the Indians, has been differently estimated by different writers. It was probably about equal to that of the Americans.
24 Major Richardson, of the Forty-first, gives the following description of the appearance of the Indian warriors on the march from Brownstown to Monguaga: "No other sound than the measured step of the troops interrupted the solitude of the scene, rendered more imposing by the wild appearance of the warriors, whose bodies, stained and painted in the most frightful manner for the occasion, glided by us with almost noiseless velocity, without order and without a chief; some painted white, some black, others half black and half red, half black and half white; all with their hair plastered in such a way as to resemble the bristling quills of the porcupine, with no other covering than a cloth around their loins, yet armed to the teeth with rifles, tomahawks, war-clubs, spears, bows and arrows, and scalping-knives. Uttering no sound, and intent on reaching the enemy unperceived, they might have passed for the spectres of those wilds – the ruthless demons which war had unchained for the punishment and oppression of men." Major Richardson, perceiving the necessity of an apology for being found fighting Christian men side by side with these savage pagans as brethren in arms, says, but without warrant, "The natives must have been our friends or our foes. Had we not employed them the Americans would; and, although humanity must deplore the necessity imposed by the very invader himself of counting them among our allies, and combating at their sides, the law of self-preservation was our guide, and scrupulous, indeed, must be the power that would have hesitated at such a moment in its choice." – War of 1812. First Series, containing a full and detailed Narrative of the Operation of the Right Division of the Canadian Army, by Major Richardson, K. S. F. – Pamphlet, page 52.
Auchinleck, without the shadow of justification, says (page 55), that "every possible exertion was employed by agents of the United States government to detach the Indians from us, and to effect an alliance with them on the part of the States." Every honorable exertion was used by the United States to detach the Indians from the British Interest and persuade them to remain neutral, but the government never consented to an alliance with the savages until the practice of the British made it necessary, as in the old struggle for independence, when Washington said "we must fight Indians with Indians."
25 Miller was thrown from his horse. He was supposed to be shot, and the savages rushed forward to scalp him. They were driven back, and in a few moments he was remounted. – Judge Witherell. M‘Afee says he remained on foot through the remainder of the battle, and that the most active part devolved upon Majors Van Horne and Morrison.
26 Among those who performed gallant service in this charge was sergeant Nathan Champe, son of Sergeant Champe, famous in the Revolution as the one employed by Washington to seize Arnold in the city of New York. Lieutenant George Johnston, who died at Green Bay in 1850, commanded the Michigan cavalry on this occasion, and was called the Murat of that corps. – Judge Witherell.
27 For his services on this occasion Tecumtha was rewarded by the British government with the commission of a brigadier general.
28 Hull’s Letter to the Secretary of War, August 13, 1812; Major Richardson, quoted by Auchinleck, pages 53 and 54; M‘Afee, pages 78 and 79; Judge Witherell’s Paper, read before the Michigan Historical Society in the Spring of 1857; Lieutenant colonel Miller to his Wife, August 27, 1812 – Autograph Letter.
29 Major Muir and Lieutenant Sutherland were the only British officers wounded. Tecumtha was also slightly wounded in the neck by a buck-shot.
30 This is from a pencil sketch made by an officer of the United States Army in 1816. Beyond the opening out of the Oak Woods, mentioned in the text, is seen the Detroit River, with Grosse Isle in the distance. The Indian village near which this battle was fought is spelled sometimes Maguaga, according to the orthography of the official dispatches; Mongenaga, according to Mellish’s Military Atlas, from whichour map on page 266 was copied; and Monguagon, according to Judge Witherell and other local writers. I have adopted the orthography of the dispatches. The battle-ground was at or near the present village of Trenton, in Michigan.
31 "In my boyhood," says Judge Witherell, "I knew him well. His appearance was venerable and dignified; his heart was the seat of kindness; he was unquestionably an honest man. The general had a most excellent family. Mrs. Hull, a portly, fine-looking woman, made it the principal business of her life to visit the sick and provide for the destitute poor."
32 M‘Afee, page 82.
33 Colonel Hatch says, "On a private consultation on the 12th of August with those known to be the most active of the subordinate officers and men of the volunteer regiments, it was decided to get up a Round Robin* (so called), addressed to the three colonels, requesting the arrest or displacement of the general from his command, and vesting, by common consent, the eldest colonel, M‘Arthur, with all the powers incidental to chief command.
* A phrase (rond ruban) originally derived from a custom of the French officers, who, on signing a remonstrance or petition to their superiors, wrote their names in a circular form, so that it might be impossible to ascertain who had headed the list.
34 "The doubtful fate of this letter rendered it necessary to use circumspection in its details, and therefore the blanks were left. The word ‘capitulation’ will fill the first, and ‘commanding general’ the other." – Colonel Cass to the Secretary of War, Washington City, September 10, 1812.
35 Captain J. B. Glegg, Brock’s aid-de-camp, has left on record the following description of Tecumtha at that interview: "Tecumseh’s appearance was very prepossessing: his figure light, and finely proportioned; his age I imagined to be about five-and-thirty [he was about forty]; in height, five feet nine or ten inches; his complexion light copper; countenance oval, with bright hazel eyes, bearing cheerfulness, energy, and decision. Three small silver crosses or coronets were suspended from the lower cartilage of his aquiline nose, and a large silver medallion of George the Third, which I believe his ancestor had received from Lord Dorchester when Governor General of Canada, was attached to a mixed-colored wampum string and hung round his neck. His dress consisted of a plain, neat uniform, tanned deer-skin jacket, with long trowsers of the same material, the seams of both being covered with neatly-cut fringe, and he had on his feet leather moccasins, much ornamented with work made from the dyed quills of the porcupine."
The portrait of Tecumtha above given is from a pencil sketch by Pierre le Dru, mentioned in note 1, page 189. In this I have given only the head by Le Dru. The cap was red, the hand ornamented with colored porcupines’ quills, and in front was a single eagle’s feather, black, with a white tip. The sketch of his dress (and the medal above described), in which he appears as a brigadier general of the British army, is from a rough drawing which I saw in Montreal in the summer of 1858, made at Malden soon after the surrender of Detroit, where the Indians celebrated that event by a grand feast. It was only on gala occasions that Tecumtha was seen in full dress. The sketch did not pretend to give a true likeness of the chief, and was valuable only as a delineation of his costume. From the two we are enabled to give a pretty faithful picture of the great Shawnoese warrior and statesman as he appeared in his best mood. When in full dress he wore a cocked hat and plume, but would not give up his blue breech-cloth, red leggins fringed with buckskin, and buckskin moccasins.
36 Brock wrote of Tecumtha as follows: "A more sagacious or a more gallant warrior does not, I believe, exist. He was the admiration of every one who conversed with him. From a life of dissipation he has not only become, in every respect, abstemious, but he has likewise prevailed on all his native, and many of the other tribes, to follow his example."
37 Tupper’s Life of Brock, page 220.
38 The execution of heavy guns at long distances at that time was feeble when compared to that of the rifled cannon and conical balls used at the present day. In the year 1812, the late Ichabod Price, of New York (who died in that city on the 1st of March, 1862, at the age of eighty-one years), suggested to the War Department both rifled cannon and conical balls. He was then a sergeant of an artillery corps of the State of New York, who volunteered for the defense of the state. The department would not listen to Price’s proposition; but his genius was so well attested in the presence of President Madison that he commissioned him a lieutenant in the regular army of the United States.
39 Letter of the Secretary of War to General Dearborn, August 1, 1812. Of the position of affairs on the Niagara frontier at this time much will be said hereafter. Suffice it to say now that General Dearborn agreed to a conditional armistice with Sir George Prevost, an arrangement which the government of the United States subsequently repudiated.
40 I was informed by the venerable Robert Reynolds, of Amherstburg, who was a deputy assistant commissary general in the British army in Canada during the war, that Proctor sent a letter to Captain Roberts telling him that his force was considerable, and that he need not send down more than five thousand Indians. This letter, according to instructions, was intercepted, and placed in the hands of Hull, who had visions immediately of an overwhelming force coming down upon his rear, while a superior army should attack him in front.
41 I visited the Long Point region at Norwichville in the autumn of 1860, where early settlers were yet living. There I was informed, from the lips of Adam Yeigh, of Burford, who was one of the volunteers, that all of the recruits from his neighborhood were dressed in scarlet uniform at the public expense. When they approached Sandwich he said these raw recruits were mixed with the regulars, each volunteer being placed between two regulars. By this stratagem Hull was deceived into the belief that a large British force was marching against him. Yeigh was an energetic young man, and soon won the confidence of Brock, who gave him the following directions on the day that they marched upon Sandwich from Amherstburg: If your lieutenant falls, take his place; if your captain falls, take his place; if your colonel falls, take his place. As no blood was shed on the occasion, and nobody fell, Yeigh failed of promotion. He cited this circumstance to show how nearly he came to being a British colonel.
42 Historical Sketches of the Second War, etc., i., 81.
43 Hull’s Memoir of the Campaign of 1812, page 73.
44 Letter of Colonel Cass to the Secretary of War, September 10, 1812.
45 M‘Afee, page 85.
46 Brock to Hull, dated Sandwich, August 15, 1812.
47 Hull, in his report to the Secretary of War, August 26, 1812, said it "did not exceed eight hundred men." Colonel Cass, in a letter to the same Cabinet minister, on the 10th of September, said that the morning report of the 15th "made our effective men present fit for duty 1060." Major Jesup estimated them at 950.
48 When Major Denny evacuated Fort Gowris he set fire to the picket and other works used for strengthening it, when the flames accidentally seized the house and destroyed it.
49 Historical Sketches of the late War, by John Lewis Thomson, page 30.
50 During the evening a large shell was thrown from a battery opposite where Woodward Avenue now is. It passed over the present Jefferson Avenue, then the principal street of the town, and fell upon the roof of Augustus Langdon, which stood on what is now the southerly corner of Woodward Avenue and Congress Street. Coming down through the house, which was two stories in height, it fell upon a table around which the family were seated, and went through to the cellar. The family had just time to flee from the house, when the shell exploded, almost wrecking the building. – Judge Witherell.
51 The battery that did the greatest execution was placed, according to Judge Witherell, in the rear of the spot where the United States Court-house now stands. It was commanded by Lieutenant Daliba, of Dyson’s Artillery Corps. He was a brave soldier. During the cannonade he stood in the ramparts, and when he saw the smoke or flash of the enemy’s cannon, he would call out to his men "Down!" when they would drop behind the parapet until the shot had struck. A large pear-tree stood near the battery and was somewhat in the way. Colonel Mack, of the Michigan militia, ordered a young volunteer named John Miller to cut it down. John obeyed with alacrity. Seizing an axe, he hewed away diligently until he had about half severed the trunk, when a cannon ball from the enemy cut away nearly all of the remainder. The young man coolly turned toward the enemy and called out, "Send us another, John Bull; you can cut faster than I can."
It is related that a negro was seen, on the morning of the 16th, when the shot were striking thick and fast around the fort, behind a chimney on the roof of one of the barracks in the fort. He watched the smoke of the cannon across the river, and would then dodge behind the chimney. At length an eight-pound ball struck the chimney just over his head, demolished it, and covered the skulker with brick and mortar. Clearing himself from the rubbish, and scratching his woolly head, he exclaimed, "What de debble you doin up dar!" He fled to a safer place.
52 According to Brock’s official account, the number of troops which he marched against the fort was a little over thirteen hundred, as follows: 30 artillery; 250 of the 41st Regiment; 50 Royal Newfoundland Regiment; 400 militia, and about 600 Indians. His artillery consisted of three 6-pounders and two 3-pounders. – Tupper’s Life of Brock, page 250. The number of Indians was probably greater than here stated, as 1000 warriors attended a council a few days before.
53 This was in Jefferson Avenue, in front of the Cass farm, before the hill was cut down. The elevation was then about the same as it is now at the intersection of Woodward Avenue. These guns were placed there by Lieutenant Anderson, of the United States Engineers. Although the landing-place of the enemy at Spring Wells was about three miles off, Anderson opened upon the foe while they were crossing, but without doing much damage.
54 Colonel Cass to the Secretary of War, September 10th, 1812.
55 The same to the same.
56 "Leonard Harrison, of Dearborn, told me that soon after a white flag was hoisted at the fort he happened to be standing near Colonel Findlay, of the Ohio Volunteers, and Lieutenant Colonel Miller, of the Fourth Infantry. Colonel Findlay said, ‘Colonel Miller, the general talks of a surrender; let us put him under arrest.’ Miller replied, ‘Colonel Findlay, I am a soldier; I shall obey my superior officer,’ intimating that if Findlay would assume the command of the army he would obey him. Had the stern old M‘Arthur, or the younger and more impetuous Cass been present, either of them would have taken the responsibility." – Judge Witherell.
Miller’s true soldierly qualities of obedience and acquiescence is shown in the careful manner in which, to his wife, he wrote concerning the surrender, from his prison at Fort George, on the 27th day of August, 1812. "Only one week after I, with six hundred men, completely conquered almost the whole force which they then had, they came out and took Fort Detroit, and made nearly two thousand of us prisoners, on Sunday, the 16th instant. There being no operations going on below us [meaning Niagara frontier] gave them an opportunity to re-enforce. The number brought against us is yet unknown; but my humble opinion is we could have defeated them, without a doubt, had we attempted it. But General Hull thought differently, and surrendered without making any terms of capitulation. Colonel Brush and I made the best terms we could after the surrender, which were but poor." – Manuscript Letter.
57 The white "flag" was a table-cloth. It was waved from one of the bastions by Captain Burton, of the Fourth Regiment, by order of General Hull.
58 Tupper’s Life of Brock, page 232.
59 In his dispatch to the Secretary of War, dated at Fort George, August 26, 1812, General Hull generously said: "I well know the high responsibility of the measure, and take the whole of it on myself. It was dictated by a sense of duty, and a full conviction of its expediency. The bands of savages which had then joined the British force were numerous beyond any former example. Their numbers have since increased; and the history of the barbarians of the north of Europe does not furnish examples of more greedy violence than these savages have exhibited. A large portion of the brave and gallant officers and men I commanded would cheerfully have contested until the last cartridge had been expended and the bayonets worn to the sockets. I could not consent to the useless sacrifice of such brave men when I knew it was impossible for me to sustain my situation. It was impossible, in the nature of things, that an army could have been furnished with the necessary supplies of provisions, military stores, clothing, and comforts for the sick, on pack-horses, through a wilderness of two hundred miles, filled with hostile savages. It was impossible, sir, that this little army, worn down by fatigue, by sickness, by wounds, and deaths, could have supported itself not only against the collected force of all the Northern nations of Indians, but against the united strength of Upper Canada, whose population consists of more than twenty times the number contained in the Territory of Michigan, aided by the principal part of the regular forces of the province, and the wealth and influence of the Northwest and other trading establishments among the Indians, which have in their employment more than two thousand white men."
After alluding to Colonels M‘Arthur, Findlay, Cass, and Miller in commendatory terms, he said: "If aught has taken place during the campaign which is honorable to the army, these officers are entitled to a large share of it. If the last act should he disapproved, no part of the censure belongs to them." He closed his dispatch by soliciting an early investigation of his conduct, and requesting the government not to be unmindful of his associates in captivity, and of the families of the brave men who had fallen in the contest.
60 It was stipulated that the fort at Detroit, with all its dependencies, and the troops there, excepting such of the militia of Michigan Territory who had not joined the army, should be surrendered, with all public property of every kind. The command of Captain Brush at the River Raisin, and M‘Arthur’s then away from Detroit, were, at the request of Hull, included in the capitulation, while the Ohio militia, who had not yet joined the army, were paroled on condition that they should return home, and not serve during the war.
61 "Such part of the Ohio militia," he said, "as have not joined the army [meaning Brush’s detachment at the Raisin] will be permitted to return to their homes, on condition that they will not serve during the war. Their arms, however, will be delivered up, If belonging to the public."
62 They had been discovered by Brock’s scouts, and their presence in the rear caused the British general to move to the attack sooner than he intended to. "Hearing," says Brock, in his official dispatch, "that his [M‘Arthur’s] cavalry had been seen that morning three miles in our rear, I decided on an immediate attack."
63 On the evening of the 17th, Captain Elliott, son of Colonel Elliott, with a Frenchman and Wyandot Indian, approached Brush’s encampment at the Raisin bearing a flag of truce, a copy of the capitulation at Detroit, and authority to receive the surrender of Brush and his command. Lieutenant Couthier, of the Raisin, the officer of the day, blindfolded Elliott, and led him to the block-house. Brush was not satisfied that his visit was by authority, or that the document was genuine, so he ordered Elliott’s arrest and confinement. M‘Arthur’s letter testified to the genuineness of Elliott’s document and authority, when Brush hastily packed up the public property at the Raisin, and, with his whole command and his cattle, started for Ohio, directing Elliott to be released the next day. The angry Elliott sent for Tecumtha to pursue Brush. It was too late. – Statement of Peter Navarre (who was an eye-witness) to the Author in September, 1860; Letter to the Author from the Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, of Ohio.
64 Among other demonstrations in different parts of the country, the newspapers of the day noticed that at Greensborough, North Carolina, General Hull was hung and burnt in effigy, "in accordance with the prescription of a public meeting."
65 The whole white population of Michigan at that time was between four and five thousand. The greater part were Canadians. Their settlements were chiefly on the Maumee, Raisin, Ecorce, Rouge, Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, and the Island of Mackinack. They paid very little attention to agriculture, being engaged chiefly in hunting, fishing, and trading with the Indians. They did not produce sufficient from the earth to give themselves sustenance; and their beef, pork, corn, and flour were brought from a distance.
66 Estimates of the number actually included in the capitulation vary from 1800 to 2500. I have examined all, and think the number was not far from 2000.
67 The spoils were 2500 stand of arms; twenty-five iron, and eight brass pieces of ordnance; forty barrels of gunpowder, a stand of colors, and a great quantity and variety of military stores. The armed brig Adams also became a prize. She was immediately put in complete order, and her name changed to Detroit, under which title we shall meet her hereafter, in the British service.
68 The garrison flag surrendered on that occasion was taken to Montreal by Captain Glegg, Brock’s aid-de-camp.
69 This cannon was retaken from the British at the battle of the Thames, in October, 1813. I saw it in the state arsenal at Frankfort, Kentucky, when I visited that city in April, 1861. It is a small three-pounder, three feet four inches in length. It has the British mark of the broad arrow upon it, and the date of "1775."
70 After the surrender, General Hull returned to his own house, where he had resided as Governor of Michigan. It was then occupied by Mr. Hickman, his son-in-law. A British guard attended him. – Wallace.
71 It was Hull’s intention to forward his dispatch from Fort George by Major Witherell, of the Michigan Volunteers; but Brock having gone directly to York, the commander of the post would not take the responsibility of allowing his prisoner to correspond with his government. From Montreal he sent his dispatch, dated August 26th, by Lieutenant Anderson, of the Artillery, to the Secretary of War. – Hull’s Letter to the Secretary of War, Montreal, September 8, 1812.
72 Darby Noon was a native of Ireland, and a man of great personal worth. He raised and equipped a volunteer company at Albany, almost entirely at his own expense, and in 1813 was commissioned a major in the 41st Regiment of New York State Militia. His wife was Caroline Broome, daughter of Lieutenant Governor Broome, of New York. Major Noon survived the war only eight years, dying in September, 1823. From his widow, who died in 1861, I received the above portrait of the gallant officer.
73 General Brock’s dispatches and the colors of the United States 4th Regiment reached London on the 6th of October, the anniversary of his birth, where, in honor of his achievement at Detroit, the Park and Town guns were fired. Only a week later, and the gallant general was no more.
74 Ex-Governor Samuel Huntington was at Cleveland, a volunteer, when Colonel Cass arrived there on his way to the seat of government. Huntington accompanied him to Washington, at the request of General Wadsworth. When within two days ride of the national capital, Cass was prostrated by sickness. Huntington pressed forward, and was the first to give positive information of Hull’s surrender, to the Secretary of War. This made Dr. Eustis impatient for the arrival of Cass. "The Secretary at War," wrote Huntington, "was very desirous to see him, and requested me to go after him in a carriage. I met him the first day, about thirty-five miles from this. He had recovered sufficiently to pursue the journey." – Autograph Letter of Governor Huntington to General Meigs, Washington City, September 12, 1812.
75 Secretary Eustis seems to have been so conscious of his fatal mistake in not sending his letter to Hull, announcing the declaration of war, by which his vessel and its precious contents, captured at Malden at the beginning of July, might have been saved, that, as late as the 18th of December, four months after the surrender of Detroit, he gave evidence of his belief that public opinion would lay the responsibility of the disaster upon him. In a letter to General Dearborn of that date, he said: "Fortunately for you, the want of success which has attended the campaign will be attributed to the Secretary of War. So long as you enjoy the confidence of the government, the clamor of the discontented should not be regarded." Governor Huntington, in his letter to Governor Meigs, mentioned in the preceding note, said: "The whole blame is laid at the door of the present administration, and we are told that if De Witt Clinton had been our president, the campaign would have been short and glorious – it would have been short, no doubt, and terminated by an inglorious peace." – Autograph Letter, Washington City, September 12, 1812.
76 General Dearborn, early in August, signed an armistice, entered into between himself and Sir George Prevost, for a cessation of hostilities until the will of the United States government should be known, there then being, it was supposed, propositions for peace on the part of Great Britain before the Cabinet at Washington. On this account Sir George had issued positive instructions for a cessation of hostilities. Dearborn signed the armistice on the 9th of August. Had he sent a notice of it by express to Hull, as that officer did of his surrender to Dearborn, Detroit might have been saved, for it would have reached Hull before the 15th of August, and the imperative commands of Prevost would have prevented Brock’s acting on the offensive. Meanwhile Hull’s supplies and re-enforcements would have arrived from Ohio, and made him strong enough to invade Canada again at the conclusion of the armistice. But instead of sending a notice of the armistice to Hull by express, Dearborn, like the Secretary of War with his more important dispatches, intrusted his letter to the irregular mails, and it was actually nine days going from Albany to Buffalo! The first intimation of an armistice which Hull received was while on his way toward the Niagara as a prisoner of war.
77 Lewis Cass was born at Exeter, New Hampshire, on the 9th of October, 1782. At the age of seventeen years he crossed the Alleghany Mountains on foot, and settled in Marietta, Ohio, where he studied law, and was active in proceedings against Aaron Burr. Jefferson appointed him Marshal of Ohio in 1807. He took an active part in the war of 1812 in the West, and, late in 1813, President Madison appointed him Governor of the Territory of Michigan. He held that position till 1831, when he was called to the Cabinet of President Jackson as Secretary of War. In 1836 he went to France as American Minister at the Court of St. Cloud. He returned home in 1842. He was elected United States Senator by the Legislature of Michigan in 1845, and he held that position until called to Buchanan’s Cabinet in 1857. He resigned that position at near the close of 1860, because he could not remain associated with the President’s confidential advisers, who, he was satisfied, were plotting treason against his country. He retired from public life, and died at Detroit on the 17th of June, 1866, at the age of eighty-four years.
78 Generals Bloomfield, Parker, and Covington; Colonels Fenwick, Carberry, Little, and Irvine; and Lieutenant Colonels Dennis, Connor, Davis, Scott, and Stewart.
79 The specifications under the charge of TREASON were, 1st. "Hiring the vessel to transport his sick men and baggage from the Miami to Detroit." 2d. "Not attacking the enemy’s fort at Malden, and retreating to Detroit." 3d. "Not strengthening the fort of Detroit, and surrendering."
The specifications under the charge of COWARDICE were, 1st. "Not attacking Malden, and retreating to Detroit." 2d. "Appearances of alarm during the cannonade." 3d. "Appearances of alarm on the day of the surrender." 4th. "Surrendering of Detroit." The specifications under the third charge were similar to those under the second.
80 It is perhaps not technically true that the court decided that he was not guilty of treason. They determined that they could not try him on that charge, but said "the evidence on the subject having been publicly given, the court deem it proper, in justice to the accused, to say that they do not believe, from any thing that has appeared before them, that General William Hull has committed treason against the United States."
81 The President approved the sentence on the 25th of April, and on the same day the following general order was issued:
"Washington City, April 25, 1814.
"The rolls of the army are to be no longer disgraced by having upon them the name of Brigadier General William Hull. The general court-martial, of which General Dearborn is president, is hereby dissolved.
"By order, J. B. WALBACH, Adjutant General."
82 These were published in a volume of three hundred and ten pages, entitled, Memoirs of the Campaign of the Northwestern Army of the United States. A. D. 1812. General Hull’s long silence was owing to the fact that his papers were burnt in the vessel in which they were sent from Detroit to Buffalo, after the surrender, and that during two administrations he vainly applied to the War Department at Washington for copies of papers necessary for his defense. It was not until John C. Calhoun became Secretary of War that any notice was taken of his application. That officer promptly caused copies to be made of all papers that General Hull desired, when he commenced his vindication in his memoir just mentioned.
83 He was always calm, tranquil, and happy. He knew that his country would one day also understand him, and that history would at last do him justice. He was asked, on his death-bed, whether he still believed he had done right in the surrender of Detroit, and he replied that he did, and was thankful that he had been enabled to do it. – History of the Campaign of 1812, by his grandson, James Freeman Clark, page 365. Mr. Wallace, one of his aids, says that when he parted with the general at Detroit to return home, the white-haired veteran said, "God bless you, my young friend! You return to your family without a stain; as for myself, I have sacrificed a reputation dearer to me than life, but I have saved the inhabitants of Detroit, and my heart approves the act."
84 Mr. Wallace, one of Hull’s aids, whose testimony we have before alluded to [Chapter XIII, Endnotes 18, 24, 42; and Chapter XIV, Endnote 70 – WDC, 07/14/2001.], says: "General Cass has since declared to me that he thought the main defect of General Hull was the ‘imbecility of age,’ and it was the defect of all the old veterans who took the field in the late war. A peaceful government like ours must always labor under similar disadvantages. Our superannuated officers must be called into service, or men without experience must command our armies."
85 William Hull was born in Derby, Connecticut, on the 24th of June, 1753. He was graduated with honor at Yale College when he was nineteen years of age. He first studied divinity, but left it for the law. He was a meritorious soldier and officer throughout the Revolution, and participated in nine battles. He went to Canada on an Indian commission in 1792. He held judicial and representative offices in Massachusetts, and, as we have seen, was placed in a responsible military and civil station at the beginning of the War of 1812. He died at Newton, Massachusetts, in November, 1825. I am indebted to General Hull’s granddaughter, Miss Sarah A. Clarke, of Newport, Rhode Island, for a copy of his portrait, painted by Stuart, from which our engraving was made. The signature is copied from a letter in my possession, written at White Plains, New York, in the autumn of 1778.
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