THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Aug. 26 — Sept. 1)
Storm Clouds Gathering
Things are quiet across the old Northwest Territory – the present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and a small part of Minnesota – this week.
But trouble is brewing among the Native American tribes who have resented and feared the migration into their lands by American traders and settlers after Great Britain gave up the territory (and what would become the State of Ohio) to the newly independent United States of America in 1783.
The fall of Forts Mackinac and Detroit in Michigan with little or no resistance and the massacre of 28 soldiers and 14 civilians following the evacuation of Ford Dearborn in Illinois, have emboldened chiefs among the Miami, Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Winnebago. They think with Americans reeling from these defeats on the frontier, now is time to re-assert their sovereignty over the lands north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi.
After surrendering Fort Detroit, to the British, Brig. Gen. William Hull writesSecretary of War William Eustis to warn that every tribe in the Northwest Territory is against the United States. Even tribes that originally pledged their neutrality are starting to side with the British and Canadians.
Both forts are vulnerable. Fort Wayne, with a garrison of only 100 men, has fallen into disrepair since the Indian wars of the 1790s. Fort Harrison is newer, built in 18111, but manned by only 50 men – half of them sick.
Next Week: Under Siege