|T he United States declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812 and word reached Fort Amherstburg several days later. With this information the Commander of the fort, Lieutenant-Colonel St. George, scored one of the first British successes of the war. On July 2, 1812 the American schooner Cuyahoga sailed up the Detroit River loaded with supplies, a military band and numerous sick troops belonging to Brigadier-General William Hull’s North-Western Army.The occupants of the vessel were unaware of Washington’s declaration of war. As the Cuyahoga passed the fort a mixed force of soldiers, sailors and natives lead by Lieutenant Frederick Rolette of the Provincial Marine rowed out and forced the schooner to heave to. The startled Americans put up little resistance.|
Of vital interest to the British was the discovery of Hull’s papers outlining scenarios for a campaign against Fort Amherstburg. To oppose Hull’s 2500 strong army St. George had about 300 regulars of the 41st and Royal Newfoundland Regiments stationed at Fort Amherstburg and the support of approximately 850 local militia and 400 Native Allies. On paper the Militia was quite numerous, but it was largely untrained, unequipped and unarmed. Essex County supplied most of the militia, though counties farther east, such as Kent, contributed men for the defence of Fort Amherstburg.
The best Essex militiamen were grouped into two “flank companies” (approximately 40-60 soldiers in each company) which had some training and arms, and were perhaps 1812-Aburg-Navy-Yardbetter motivated. The Native Allies numbers varied greatly from engagement to engagement, but their skill in guerrilla warfare was to be a great equalizer against the Americans.
On July 12, 1812 Hull invaded Upper Canada crossing the river between Detroit and Sandwich, about 35 kilometres above Fort Amherstburg. The Essex Militia stationed in Sandwich scattered allowing the Americans to firmly establish themselves on Canadian soil. The opposing forces first clashed south of Sandwich at the bridge over the River Canard on July 16, 1812. Here the Americans threw the British back from the last natural obstacle before Amherstburg. Hull did not fully exploit this victory. He was concerned with his supply situation and the lack of serviceable heavy artillery to batter Fort Amherstburg. When Provincial Marine vessels anchored near the mouth of the River Canard further hindering the advance on Amherstburg, Hull let the initiative slip from his grasp.
The British at this point could not hope to directly force the Americans off Canadian soil. Instead, with great success, their military effort was directed against Hull’s supply lines. Groups of British regulars, Cannon Linda StanleyCanadian Militia and Native Allies sortied from Fort Amherstburg threatening the American lines of communication on the west bank of the Detroit River. At the battles of Brownstown, August 5, 1812 and Monguagon, August 9, 1812, the British attempted to sever Hull’s supply route to Ohio. On July 26 Hull learned of the fall of the American fort at Michilimackinac, located in northern Michigan. He now greatly feared British and Native attacks from that direction cutting off his army from its base of operations at Detroit.
The capitulation of Hull’s army at Detroit was a boon to the British. The numerous cannons, muskets and supplies stored in the town were used to equip and feed the Canadian Militia and the Native Allies. The elimination of a major American army lessened the immediate threat to Fort Amherstburg and south west Upper Canada. It also meant the occupation of Michigan territory by the British and Canadians. Secure on this flank, Brock now shifted forces away from the Detroit River region to the next pressing theatre of operations, the Niagara Peninsula.
With the departure of Brock command of the troops at Fort Amherstburg devolved upon Colonel Henry Procter, a career officer of the 41st Regiment. Procter’s dilemma was this: how does one hold on to Detroit, Michigan territory and southwest Upper Canada with very limited forces? His answer was a defensive strategy coupled with limited offensive actions to disrupt the build up of new American armies.
Though humbled at Detroit the Americans were not easily discouraged. They formed a second North-Western Army under William Henry Harrison, Governor of Indiana Territory and future President of the United States. He planned a winter campaign to recapture the lost territory and to attack the British installations at Amherstburg. Harrison hoped the frozen Detroit River would immobilize the vessels of the Provincial Marine and that the ice in the river could be a bridge for his army of 4000. Harrison’s force began its advance late in the year and the first major clash with Procter came early in 1813.
The Battle of Frenchtown, January 22, 1813, was the first test of Procter’s defensive strategy. The leading elements of Harrison’s army, approximately 1000 troops under General James Winchester pushed north along the west side of Lake Erie. Canadian militia and Natives driven out of Frenchtown by Winchester’s troops sent warning of the American approach and Procter quickly dispatched all available forces for a counter-attack. His troops included about 500 regulars and militia and approximately 400-500 Native Allies under the command of Wyandotte Chief Roundhead. The ensuing battle was hard fought with heavy casualties on both sides. Procter’s troops prevailed and most of Winchester’s men were either killed or captured. The British victory was marred when the following day numerous American wounded and prisoners were killed by Native Warriors.
The victory at Frenchtown ensured the safety of Fort Amherstburg until the Spring of 1813. By April Harrison had reorganized an army of 2000 at Fort Meigs in northern Ohio. Once again Procter set out from Amherstburg to disrupt this concentration. He sailed across the recently thawed Lake Erie with approximately 2000 regulars, militia and Native Allies and began a siege of the American fort. From the end of April to early May the bombardment of the Americans continued. However, Fort Meigs could not be taken. A relieving American force, while eventually defeated, disrupted the siege. Some of the Natives left after the defeat of the American relieving force, believing that they had achieved a victory. Also, the Canadian Militia, which contained a large number of farmers, clamoured to return to Essex County for Spring planting. Procter, faced with these circumstances reluctantly ended the operation and returned to Amherstburg.
During the Summer of 1813 Procter made his last efforts to stop the American buildup. Leaving the militia to guard Fort Amherstburg, Procter’s regulars and Native Warriors attacked Fort Meigs from July 26-28 and Fort Stephenson, a few miles from Meigs, on August 2. Both attempts were futile resulting in costly losses to the British Regulars. There were no further allied efforts south of Lake Erie.
A new threat to Fort Amherstburg developed during 1813. Through the winter and spring the Americans constructed a fleet at Presqu’ile, Pennsylvania and by August this fleet was ready for action. Oliver Hazard Perry, the commander of the American squadron, used his vessels to cut the British supply route across Lake Erie. By September the Commissariat at Amherstburg was empty. Starvation threatened the garrison and the numerous Native Allies encamped around the town. In a desperate attempt to break the American blockade Captain Robert H. Barclay, a Royal Navy veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar, lead six vessels out from Amherstburg to engage Perry’s nine vessel fleet. On September 10, 1813 the two forces clashed. At first, Barclay’s squadron had the upper hand disabling Perry’s flag ship, the brig Lawrence. Perry transferring his flag to the Brig Niagara, recovered the initiative and the Battle of Lake Erie was a complete American victory. All of the British ships were captured.
The loss of the British Fleet meant Fort Amherstburg was now defenceless against an American amphibious invasion. Procter ordered the destruction of the fort, the naval-yard and all government buildings in Amherstburg rather than have them fall into American hands. By late September the British regulars, and what Native Allies that would follow, began the retreat from Amherstburg. Their goal was to reach other British forces at Burlington Heights, about 400 kilometres to the east. The dilatory nature of Procter’s retreat allowed Harrison’s army, which landed south of Amherstburg on September 27 to catch the British. The Battle of the Thames, on October 5, 1813 was another decisive American victory. The bulk of Procter’s troops, dispirited by the retreat quickly surrendered and the Native leader Tecumseh was killed. The defeat meant Fort Amherstburg and most of South-Western Upper Canada would be occupied by the Americans for the rest of war.
The Americans entered Amherstburg at the end of September 1813 and slowly set about constructing a new fort on the ruins of Fort Amherstburg. They encountered many of the same problems as the British in attempting to build a fort: shortages of manpower, materials and tools. The US troops erected several structures inside the new fort and were able to complete a palisade by the end of 1814. American and British diplomats signed the Treaty of Ghent on 24, December 1814 bringing the war to a close. While fighting continued in some areas until well after the ratification of the treaty Fort Malden, as the Americans now described it, remained a sleepy backwater. The Americans returned control of the partially reconstructed post to the British on July 1, 1815.
JUNE 18 US Declaration of War against Great Britain
JULY 5 Bombardment of Sandwich, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN) Guns from Detroit and batteries along the river open a general barrage on Sandwich
JULY 12 US General Hull invades Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN) Hull crosses in the area of the current Hiram Walker offices and marches along the river toward Sandwich Town. The small British force and Essex militia retreat across River Canard.
JULY 16 Skirmish at Canard River, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN) The first engagement in the area results in the first British casualties of the war. Privates Hancock and Dean heroically defend the Canard bridge but are wounded and captured. Hancock dies later the same day. The American advance is stopped by a British gun boat, the HMS Charlotte.
JULY 17 Capture of Fort Mackinac / Michilimackinac (Michigan, US)
AUGUST 5 Battle of Brownstown (Michigan, US) Small skirmish on American supply lines by natives and militia launched from Canada.
AUGUST 9 Battle of Maguaga (Michigan, US) Small skirmish on American supply lines by natives and militia launched from Canada. Hull becomes nervous about his exposed supply lines and retreats back to Fort Detroit. Brock arrives at Fort Amherst with a force of 300 Royal Newfoundland Regiment soldiers, 400 militia and 800 natives. He meets Tecumseh and they become great allies.
AUGUST 16 Capture of Fort Detroit (Michigan, US) Brock and Tecumseh capture Fort Detroit.
NOVEMBER 22 Skirmish at Maumee River (Ohio, US) Natives and militia attack a US supply line.
JANUARY 18 Battle of French town/River Raisin, (Michigan, US). The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 41st Regiment of Foot, militia and natives defeat an army of 1000 American soldiers. The Kentucky militia are massacred by the natives after the British leave the next day.
APRIL 28 – MAY 9 Siege of Fort Meigs (Ohio, US). General Proctor lays siege to Fort Meigs in Toledo, Ohio. The siege is not successful.
MAY 5 Battle of Fort Meigs (Ohio, US). A force of Light Infantry and several hundred natives attacks a relief column coming to aid Fort Meigs. The column is almost completely wiped out. May 5, Fort Miami (Ohio, US) Natives attack Fort Miami
MAY 15 Raid of Mink River (Illinois, US)
MAY 25 – 27 Capture of Fort George, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
MAY 29 Battle of Sackets Harbor, (New York, US)
JUNE 1 HMS Shannon vs USS Chesapeake (Atlantic, off coast of Massachusetts)
JUNE USS Growler and USS Eagle captured (Richelieu River, Quebec, CAN)
JUNE 6 Battle of Stoney Creek, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JUNE 8 Battle of Forty Mile Creek, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JUNE 22 Battle of Craney Island, (Virginia, US)
JUNE 24 Battle of Beaver Dams, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JUNE 26 Hampton, (Viginia, US)
JULY 5 Raid on Fort Schlosser (New York, US)
JULY 8 Fort George, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 11 Raid of Black Rock (New York, US)
JULY 20 Battle of Cranberry Creek/Goose Creek (New York, US)
JULY 21- 28 Second Siege of Fort Meigs, (Ohio, NY). Proctor again lays siege to Fort Meigs. Again they are unsuccessful.
JULY 27 Battle of Burnt Corn (Alabama, US)
JULY 29 Plattsburg (New York, US)
JULY 29 Burlington Beach, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 31 Raid of York , Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
AUGUST 2 Battle of Fort Stephenson (Ohio, US). Proctor assaults the fort but is repelled with horrendous losses. This ends the invasions in the North western territories.
AUGUST 7 -10 US fleet vs. British fleet, Lake Ontario
AUGUST 8 USS Hamilton and USS Scourge sunk in Storm Lake Ontario
AUGUST 10 Raid of St Michaels (Maryland, US)
AUGUST 10 USS Julia and USS Prowler captured (Lake Ontario)
AUGUST 13 Raid of Queenstown/Slippery Hill/Hall’s Landing/Blakeford Shore (Maryland, US)
AUGUST 14 HMS Pelican vs. USS Argus (Irish Sea, off coast of Wales)
AUGUST 24 Fort George, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
AUGUST 30 Battle of Fort Mims (Alabama, US)
SEPTEMBER 5 USS Enterprise vs. HMS Boxer (Atlantic, off coast of Maine)
SEPTEMBER 6 Skirmish at Ball’s Farm, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
SEPTEMBER 10 Battle of Lake Erie/ Put-in-Bay (Ohio, US). The British fleet is defeated on Lake Erie. General Proctor finds his position untenable and on September 27th with an impending invasion by the Americans Proctor orders Fort Amherst and all of the stores that could not be moved burned. He retreats from the area along the Detroit river and then inland.
SEPTEMBER 20 Skirmish at Odeltown, Lower Canada (Quebec, CAN)
SEPTEMBER 28 Burlington Races, Lake Ontario Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
OCTOBER 1 near Chateauguay, Lower Canada (Quebec, CAN)
OCTOBER 4 Battle of McGregor’s Creek/Mills/Chatham/ the Forks of the Thames, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN). A small skirmish is fought at the mill by Canadian militia and the advanced guard of the invading US army.
OCTOBER 5 Battle of the Thames/Moraviantown/Thamesville, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN). The 41st Regiment of Foot is defeated and either flees or is captured. Tecumseh is killed.
OCTOBER 12 Massequoi Village, Lower Canada (Quebec, CAN)
OCTOBER 26 Battle of Chateauguay, Lower Canada (Qubec, CAN)
NOVEMBER 1-2 Battle of French Creek (New York, US)
NOVEMBER 3 Battle of Tallushatchee (Alabama, US)
NOVEMBER 9, Battle of Talladega (Alabama, US)
NOVEMBER 11 Battle of Crysler’s Farm/Williamsburgh, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
NOVEMBER 29 Battle of Autosse/Tallahassee (Alabama, US)
DECEMBER 10 Burning of Niagara, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
DECEMBER 19 The Capture of Fort Niagara, (New York, US)
DECEMBER 19 Burning of Lewiston (New York, US)
DECEMBER 23 Battle of Eccanachaca, (The Holy Ground) (Alabama, US)
DECEMBER 25 HMS Belvidera vs. USS Vixen II (North Atlantic)
DECEMBER 29 – 30 Lewiston, Fort Schlosser (New York, US)
DECEMBER 31 Burning of Buffalo & Blackrock (New York, US)
JANUARY 22 Emuckfau Creek (Alambma, US)
JANUARY 24 Battle of Enotachopco Creek (Alabama, US)
JANUARY 27 Calabee Creek (Alabama, US)
FEBRUARY 14 USS Constitution vs. HMS Pictou
MARCH 4 Longwood/Long Woods/Battle Hill, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN). A large patrol in force of British regulars, militia and naives “bump” into a large patrol in force of American regulars. The battle is essentially a stalemate with the arrival of nightfall ending the skirmish. The Americans claim victory due to shear number of casualties inflicted. Both sides retreat.
MARCH 27 Battle of Horseshoe Bend/Sehopiska (Alabama, US)
MARCH 28 HMS Phobe & Cherub vs. USS Essex & Essex Junior (Pasific, off coast of Chile)
MARCH 30 Second Battle of La Colle Mill, Lower Canada (Quebec, CAN)
APRIL 20 HMS Orpheus vs. USS Frolic (Caribbean)
APRIL 29 USS Peacock vs. HMS Epervier (Caribbean)
MAY 5-6 Attack on Fort Ontario/Oswego, (New York, US)
MAY 14 Raid on Port Dover/Long Point/Campbell’s Raid, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
MAY 30 Battle of Sandy Creek/Oswego Falls (New York, US)
JUNE 1 Battle of Cedar Point/St. Jerome’sPoint (Maryland, US)
JUNE 22 HMS Leander vs. USS Rattlesnake (North Atlantic)
JUNE 26 Second Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek (Maryland, US)
JUNE 28 USS Wasp vs. HMS Reindeer, (North Atlantic)
JUNE 28 Skirmish at Odelltown, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 3 Capture of Fort Erie, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 5 Battle of Chippawa, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 11 Fort Sullivan, (Maine, US)
JULY 12 HMS Medway vs. USS Syren (off coast of South Africa)
JULY 18 Burning of St Davids, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 18-19 Raid of Champlain Village, (New York, US)
JULY 20 Siege of Prairie du Chien, (Wisconsin, US)
JULY 21 Battle of Rock River, (Illinois, US)
JULY 18 Burning of St David’s, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 25, Battle of Lundy’s Lane, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
JULY 26, Mackinac (Michigan, US)
AUGUST 1 – SEPTEMBER 19, Siege of Fort Erie, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
AUGUST 3 Battle of Conjocta Creek/Black Rock (New York, US)
AUGUST 4, Attack on Mackinac/Michilimackinac Island, (Michigan, US)
AUGUST 9 -12 Battle of Stonington, (Connecticut, US)
AUGUST 11 Attack on St Micheals, (Maryland, US)
AUGUST 12 USS Somers & USS Ohio captured (Lake Erie/Niagara River)
AUGUST 14 HMS Nancy destroyed (Lake Huron)
AUGUST 15 Battle of Fort Erie, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
AUGUST 24 Battle of Bladensburg, (Maryland, US)
AUGUST 25 Burning of Washington, (DC, US)
SEPTEMBER 1 USS Wasp vs. HMS Avon (North Atlantic)
SEPTEMBER 4 Battle of Rock Island, (Illinois, US)
SEPTEMBER 6-11 Battle of Plattsburgh, (New York, US)
SEPTEMBER 12 Skirmish at North Point, (Maryland, US)
SEPTEMBER 13, Bombardment of Fort McHenry, (Maryland, US)
SEPTEMBER 15, Battle of Fort Bowyer/Mobile Bay, (Alabama, US)
SEPTEMBER 17, US sortie from Fort Erie, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
OCTOBER 15 Skirmish at Chippawa, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
OCTOBER 19 Battle of Cook’s Mills/Lyons Creek, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
NOVEMBER 6 Battle of Malcolm’s Mills, Upper Canada (Ontario, CAN)
NOVEMBER 7 Occupation of Pensacola, (Florida, US)
DECEMBER 6 Battle of Farnham Church (Virginia, US)
DECEMBER 14 Battle of Lake Borgne, (Louisiana, US)
DECEMBER 23 Battle of Villere’s Plantation, (Louisiana, US)
DECEMBER 24 Treaty of Ghent, Belgium ending the War of 1812
JANUARY 1 Battle of Rodriques Canal, (Louisiana, US)
JANUARY 8-9 Battle of New Orleans, (Louisiana, US)
JANUARY 9-18 Battle of Fort St. Philip, (Louisiana, US)
FEBRUARY 11 Siege of Fort Bowyer, (Alabama, US)
FEBRUARY 16 President Madison ratifies Treaty of Ghent, War of 1812 officially ends.
FEBRUARY 20 US Frigate Constitution vs HMS Cayne & Levant, (off coast of North Africa)
FEBRUARY 24 Battle of St. Mary’s River (Georgia,US)
MAY 24 Battle of Sinkhole/Fort Howard (Missouri, US)
JUNE 30 USS Peacock vs East India crusier Nautilus, last battle of the War of 1812 (Indian Ocean)