1812: General William Hull Arrives in Detroit for Invasion of Canada

July 5, 2018 all-day

Acting on orders from Washington, Hull crossed the Detroit River on July 12 without opposition and established a base at what is now Windsor, Ontario, with plans to attack British-held Fort Malden at Amherstburg. By early August, however, with British and Indian forces rumored to be approaching, and concerned about the dependability of his volunteer troops, Hull abandoned this plan and returned with his army to Detroit. The British, under the aggressive command of Major General Sir Isaac Brock, followed them and began to bombard the city from the Canadian shore. In an effort to draw reinforcements, Hull sent four hundred of his troops to make contact with the American forces on the River Raisin. Unfortunately this information was intercepted by the British and Brock, now aware of the Americans’ reduced strength, crossed the river on August 16 and attacked Detroit directly. Outnumbered, with supplies running low, fearing a massacre of women and children, and unsure of the reliability of his remaining fighting force, Hull surrendered Detroit to the British without opposition. While historians now disagree as to the extent of Hull’s responsibility for the debacle, his reputation was ruined. Sentenced to death by a court-martial, he was granted a reprieve by President James Madison on account of his distinguished service in the Revolutionary War and spent the remainder of his life attempting to clear his name.

Source: Historical Dates in Michigan’s History, Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

“Michigan at War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest, 1812-1815,” a documentary produced by the Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, has been posted for free access on MI Streamnet through a partnership with Wayne Regional Educational Services Agency.

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