THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (July 27-August 2, 1814)
The King in the North.
After the bloody standoff at Lundy’s Lane on July 25, U.S. Major General Jacob Brown leads his battered force 16-miles back along the Niagara River to Fort Erie where this latest invasion of Canada began 23 days earlier. U.S. forces under Brigadier Generals Winfield Scott and Eleazer Ripley captured the lightly defended fort from the British — without much of struggle — in a July 2-3 night attack. Now Scott is gravely wounded and sent back the United States. Brown, who has also been wounded at Lundy’s Lane, turns over command of the remaining U.S. invasion force to Brigadier Gen. Edmund Gaines, before being evacuated across the river to Buffalo, New York.
The British commander, Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, begins pursuing Brown’s force, intending to besiege and capture the Americans at Fort Erie .
On July 31, U.S. Commodore Isaac Chauncey finally sails out of Sackets Harbor, New York and regains naval superiority on Lake Ontario from the forces of King George III, but it is too late to assist Brown’s campaign on the Niagara Frontier. Chauncey’s nine-vessel squadron blockades Kingston (in what is now Ontario) preventing Drummond from receiving supplies by water. Reinforcements march overland to Drummond, however, increasing the size of his force to more than 3,000 compared to less than 2,000 U.S. troops at Fort Erie. The delay in supplying by land, however, gives the Americans time to reinforce the French-and-Indian War-era fort before Drummond’s troops arrive in early August.
Meanwhile, an American expedition to recapture Fort Mackinac at the western edge of Lake Huron finally arrives at the rocky island commanded by the small fort on July 26. The expedition consists of five brigs and gunboats under Commodore Arthur Sinclair and an invasion force of 700 men commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Croghan. The U.S. force includes a battalion of Army regulars from the 17th, 19th and 24th Infantry regiments and a battalion of volunteers from the Ohio militia. There are also a couple of cannon.
Fort Mackinac, which a British-Canadian-Native American force captured by surprise attack in July 1812 — before the American garrison had received word from the East that war had been declared — was considered a strategic point straddling Lakes Michigan and Huron. The easy British victory convinced many Native American tribes taking a wait-and-see attitude about this new white man’s war to ally with His Majesty’s Forces. Facing the American assault force is about 350 Canadian regulars, British artillerymen and sailors as well as Native Americans — mostly Menominee Indians from the Wisconsin River area. The British force holds the high ground.
The American ships try to bombard the fort for two days but their guns can’t get enough elevation and the shots fall harmlessly outside the fort. The Americans make plans to attack the fort on August 4.
Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, Special Operations, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: amphibious warfare, Army, Canada, Fort Erie, Fort Mackinac, Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, Major General Jacob Brown, New York in War of 1812, Topics, War of 1812 Bicentennial, War of 1812 in Illinois, War of 1812 in Michigan.