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August 4 1812: Hull Begins to think of Retreating

On August 4, 1812, Brigadier General Hull in Sandwich, Upper Canada, writes to the Secretary of War. He is very concerned. "The unexpected surrender of Michilimackinac and the tardy operations of the army at Niagara are the circumstances to which I allude". Hull is already considering going back to Detroit. Tecumseh and his native warriors are threatening his supply lines. Hull writes: "Circumstances, however, may render it necessary to re-cross the river with the main body of the army, to preserve the communication for the purpose of obtaining supplies from Ohio". Hull's letter is reproduced below.
BRIG.-GENERAL HULL TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR. 
Sandwich, U.C. August 4, 1812. 

Sir — At the time when the army under my command took possession of this part of the province of Upper Canada every thing appeared favourable, and all the operations of this army have been successful ; circumstances have since occurred which seem materially to change our future prospects- The unexpected surrender of Michilimackinac and the tardy operations of the army at Niagara are the circumstances to which I allude. I have every reason to expect in a very short time a large body of Indians from the north, vyhose operations will be directed against this army. They are under the influence of the North and South-west Companies/ and the interest of these companies depends on opening the communication of the Detroit river this summer. It is the channel by which they obtain their supplies, and there can be no doubt but every effort will be made against this army to open that communication. It is the opinion of the officers and the most intelligent gentlemen from Michilimackinac, that the British can engage any number of Indians they may have occasion for, and that (including the Engages of the N. W. and S. W. Companies) two or three thousand 
will be brought to this place in a very short time. Despatches 'have been sent to Maiden and the messengers have returned with orders. With respect to the delay at Niagara, the following consequences have followed: a Major Chambers of the British army with 55 regulars and 4 pieces of brass artillery, has been detached from Niagara, and by the last accounts had penetrated as far as Delaware, about 120 miles from this place; every effort was making by this detachment to obtain reinforcements from the militia and Indians; considerable numbers had joined; and it was expected this force would consist of 6 or 700 : the object of this force is to operate against this army. Two days ago all the Indians were sent from Malden with a small body of British troops to Brownstown and Maguag(a) and made prisoners of the Wyandots at those places. There are strong reasons to believe that it was by their own consent, notwithstanding the professions they had made. Under all these circumstances you will perceive that the situation of this army is critical. I am now preparing a work on this bank, which may be defended by about 300 men. I 'have consulted with the principal officers and an attempt to -storm the fort at Malden is thought unadvisable without artillery to make a breach. The pickets are 14 feet high, and defended by bastions on which are mounted 24 pieces of 'Cannon. 

I am preparing floating batteries to drive the Queen 'Charlotte from the mouth of the River Canards, and land them below that river; and it is my intention to march down ' with the army, and as soon as a breach can be made, attempt the place by storm. Circumstances, however, may render it necessary to re-cross the river with the main body of the army, to preserve the communication for the purpose of obtaining supplies from Ohio. I am constantly obliged to make a strong detachment to convoy the provisions between the foot of the Rapids and Detroit. If nothing should be done at Niagara, and the force should come from the north and the east, as is almost certain, you must be sensible of the difficulties which will attend my situation- I can promise nothing but my best and most faithful exertions to promote the honor, of the army and the interest of my country. 







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