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Fort George National Historic Site

The Onset of War - The 1812 Campaign.

1812 Time line

(All events on this time line occur within the year 1812)

June 18th Declaration of War is signed.

July 12th Hull's invasion at Sandwich (Windsor).
As the news of War spread, the governor of the Michigan Territory, Brigadier General William Hull ( a veteran of the American Revolution), leads an army of soldiers from Dayton, Ohio, up to the small garrison at Detroit. Hull arrives on July 5, three days after hearing of the official declaration of war. In Detroit, Hull's army expands to some 2,000 men (regular and militia troops) and on July 12, after 2 abortive attempts (because the militia were not required fight outside of the States and didn't want to cross into Canada) Hull invades Canada. The crossing into Sandwich is unopposed as the British garrison of 300 troops had collected at Fort Malden (being too few to protect the river border).

After an unsuccessful month, plagued by ambushes on his supply trains, the capture of his personal letters (that gave critical information to the British forces) and uncooperative fellow officers, Hull retires back to the fort at Detroit (August 8th). Hull is troubled by internal difficulties in his army, but also by external forces as well. The news of the capture at Michilimacinac and the impending arrival of Brock with a force of regular soldiers makes Hull's position in Upper Canada untenable.

July 17th, British Forces Capture Fort Michilimackinac.
British Captain Charles Roberts, commander of the post at Fort St. Joseph, takes his garrison of veteran regulars, the militia and 400 Natives on a short naval excursion to the American Fort Michilimackinac. Placing an artillery piece on the heights commanding the Fort, Roberts calls for and receives the surrender of the American garrison. The American soldiers are taken prisoner and the contents of the Fort are seized by the British.

August 5th, Battle of Brownstown
A small American force sent by Hull to escort incoming supplies to Fort Detroit is ambushed and defeated by a small group of Natives and British Regulars.

August 9, ambush at Magauga
Hearing news of a strong force leaving Fort Detroit, British Captain Adam Muir (Fort Malden) attempts an ambush which, due to the inexperience of his own troops and the superior numbers of American infantry and cavalry, is brief (in the confusion the British Regulars and British Native allies fire at each other) - but ultimately succeeds in keeping the American forces hemmed in at Detroit.

August 12, Capture of the men and burning of the Garrison at Fort Dearborn
Captain Nathan Heald and a small garrison of 55 men decide to abandon Fort Dearborn (in the middle of Indian Territory) The garrison destroys its weapons and liquor supply and is attacked by the Potawatomi and Winnebago tribes. The survivors are divided amongst their captors.

August 15 -16, Bombardment of Detroit, British Forces and Native Allies capture Fort Detroit.
Major General Isaac Brock arrives in Amherstburg and meets Tecumseh for the first time (a decisive ally in the capture of Detroit)

After a day of exchanging artillery fire, Brock crosses the Detroit River with 330 regulars, 400 militia and 600 Natives. Marching towards Fort Detroit from the landing place some 5 km's distant the force spread out to create the impression of greater numbers. Once within visual contact of the Fort, the natives cross an opening in the woods several times (doubling back under cover) to create the impression of greater numbers. Hull and his discouraged garrison surrendered Detroit without firing a shot.

August 16 - September 9 Prevost agrees to an armistice with the Americans.
(Issac Brock is furious with the decision as he had hoped to capture Fort Niagara and the poorly defended Niagara frontier. The armistice gives the United States time to organise their defences.)

September 3,4,5,6 raids by natives on the western front
Given the early successes of the British Army the Natives of the Western Tribes began to take a more active role in the War against the Americans. Attacks occurred (in chronological order) at Pigeon Roost Creek, Fort Harrison, Fort Madison and Fort Wayne.

September 25, British Brevet Major Adam Muir advancing to Fort Wayne with 1,000 men encounters Brigadier General James Winchester with a force of 2,500 men. Following an encounter that leaves 2 American sentries dead, Muir retires to Fort Defiance and then back to Amherstburg.

September American raids at 1,000 islands.
The first raid executed by American forces from Sackets Harbour occurs at Gananoque. The first raid is successful (Toussaint Island) The second raid from Ogdensburg (on a British naval convoy) is defeated.

October 13th, Battle of Queenston Heights. Death of Brock and Macdonnell.
3:00 a.m. U.S. General Stephen Van Rensselaer commences crossing the Niagara river (at Queenston) with a force of 6,000 men. An hour later the alarm is raised at Fort George, Brock rushes towards Queenston encouraging all soldiers to follow him. He proceeds to the battery at Vrooman's Point and then moves to the Redan Battery at Queenston Heights. Brock is surprised by American Captain John Wool who ascends to a point above the battery by using a fisherman's path. Brock spikes the guns of the Redan and is chased down to Queenston. Brock regroups the few soldiers he has and rushes up the heights to reclaim the battery. At the climax of the charge Brock is struck in the chest by a bullet and killed. John Macdonnell, the volunteer aide to Brock tries to take the heights in a second charge and is mortally wounded.

Command falls to Major General Roger Hale Sheaffe who is bringing the force from Fort George (at a distance from the river) to St. David's. As he marches his forces grow in number with the addition of some Mohawks from the Grand River led by John Norton, militia and regulars from Chippawa, some militia cavalry and Runchey's corps of coloured men. Instead of attacking in a southerly direction, up the escarpment as Brock and Macdonnell had done, Sheaffe gains the heights some distance inland and attacks in an easterly direction towards the river.

The American force on the heights are harassed by the British allied Natives and are trapped by the British troops against the severe drop to the Niagara river. In all, some 958 American prisoners are taken. The majority of the American force had not crossed the river.

October 16, Brock and Macdonell are both buried in the Cavalier Bastion at Fort George.

November 20th, assault towards Montreal repulsed. General Dearborn with 6,000 troops tries to cross the border into Canada at Lacolle Mills. French Canadian militia and Mohawks (under the command of Major de Salaberry and Dominique Ducharme of the Indian Department)fire on the advancing forces. Much of Dearborn's force refuse to cross the river as Militia law does not require service out of state. Several of the advance American troops are killed by friendly fire and the American force retreats. Dearborn retreats to Plattsburg.

November 28th American invasion attempt at Frenchman's Creek repulsed. American General Smyth with 5, 000 tries to cross the Niagara River to destroy the bridge at Frenchman's Creek, then take Fort Erie. Only 1,500 soldiers agree to cross the river. There is a small skirmish on the Canadian shore before the American's retreat.

December 17 General William Henry Harrison sends 600 American troops attack the Miami village on the Mississinewa, to retaliate for the fall raids on American posts in the Western Tribes territories, by the Western Tribes. The initial assault was to be on the main Miami village, but poor information led to an assault on the wrong village and the Miamis, infuriated, chase off the American force the next day.

Battles in the Niagara Region
1812 Battles in the Niagara Region.
©Parks Canada / Gavin Watt
Campaigns of 1812
Military Campaigns during the year 1812.

©Parks Canada / Gavin Watt 6