August 16 1812: Hull Surrenders Detroit

On August 16 1812, General William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit without firing a shot.  Brock and Tecumseh had marched to Detroit with about 300 regular troops, 400 militia and  600 native warriors. Hull had about 582 regulars and 1,600 militia. Morning began with Brock ordering the bombardment of the fort from British vessels and guns. One cannon ball killed the unfortunate Porter Hanks, who had been the commanding officer at Fort Mackinac when it surrendered on July 17. The British had paroled him and he had come to Detroit to answer for his surrender.  

The repeated bombardment appears to have caused little damage but caused a great deal of fear. Hull became unhinged with the repeated war cries coming Native warriors. He believed that a massacre was inevitable and that the Natives would kill everyone. It is worth remembering that his son Abraham, and his daughter and grandchild were in the fort. The pressure was so much that he gave the order to surrender. Other officers refused to carry out a white flag but Hull`s son brought out the white flag to an astonished Brock and Tecumseh.  Hull wrote two letters to open up negotiations for the surrender. These can be found here and here.  After the surrender, Hull will say, "I have done what my conscience directed. I have saved Detroit and the Territory from the horrors of an Indian massacre." Brock's Proclamation and letter to Prevost of August 16 1812 are reproduced below. Robert Lucas's entry for the day, also reproduced below, gives a vivid sense of betrayal felt by many on the American soldiers.

By Isaac Brock, Esquire, Major General. Commanding 
His Britanic Majesty's Forces in the Province of Upper 
Canada &c., &c., &c. 

WHEREAS the Territory of Michigan was this day by Capitulation ceded to the Arms of His Britannic Majesty without any other condition than the protection of private property — And wishing to give an early proof of the moderation and justice of the Government, I do hereby announce to all the Inhabitants of the said Territory, that the Laws heretofore in existence shall continue in force until His Majesty's pleasure be known, or so long as the peace and safety of the said Territory will admit thereof — And I do bereby also declare and make known to the said Inhabitants, that they shall be protected in the full exercise and enjoyment of their Religion, Of which all persons both Civil and Military will take notice, and govern themselves accordingly. 

All persons having in their possession, or having any knowledge of any Public Property, shall forthwith deliver in the same or give notice thereof to the Officer Commanding, or Lieutenant Colonel Nichol, who are hereby duly Authorized to receive and give proper Receipts for the same. 

Officers of Militia will be held responsible that all Arms in possession of Militia Men, be immediately delivered up,  and all Individuals whatever, who have in their possession, Arms of any kind, will deliver them up without delay. 

Given under my hand, at Detroit, this sixteenth day of August, One thousand eight hundred and twelve, and in the Fifty Second Year of His Majesty's reign. 

(signed) Isaac Brock 
Major General. 


Head Quarters Detroit 
August 16 1812. 

Sir - I hasten to apprize Your Excellency of the Capture of this very important Post: 2,500 troops have this day surrendered Prisoners of War, and about 25 Pieces of Ordnance have been taken, without the Sacrifice of a drop of British blood ; I had not more than 700 troops including Militia, and about 400 Indians to accomplish this Service. When I detail my good fortune Your Excellency will be astonished. I have been admirably supported by Colonel Procter, the whole of my Staff and I may justly say every individual under my command

Robert Lucas provides this account

[Sunday, August the Sixteenth] 

16th This morning about daybr[e]ak the British renewed the[i]r fire upon the fourt, and it was returned from our Battery. The roaring of the cannon was tremendious but there was but little injury done, one Shot accidentally killed a man, in the plain, and two by axident being nearly Spent fell within the garrison, one of which killed Ensign Sibly and a Soldier from Mackinaw and the other killed Lieut Planks  Doctor Reynolds Surgeon-mate to Colo Cass Rgt  Zanesville and Wounded Doctor Blood Surgeon mate in the 4 th U S Egt The ball took of [f] intirely one of Doct[o]r Reynolds legs, and the other part[l]y of [f] he Died in ab[o]ut a half an hour after, (he was Said to utter the following words about the time he expired) "fight on my brave comrade. I shall nev[e]r see Zanesville I die in peace" Peace be to his manes but his comrades was prevented from fighting, by their commander for the fort was Surrendered about 8 oclock, the Gnl Capitulat[e]d at the time the Gnl raised a flag of truce on the walls of the garrison, the 4th Regt and a small part [of] Colo McAr- th[u]rs was in the fort, Colo Finleys Rgt was posted on the North of the plain back of the fort. And Major Denny with part of Colo? McArthurs and Casses Regts along Some Pickets South of the plain, a Part of the Michigan Militia in the upper part of the town and a part in the plain; 2-24 pounders loaded with grate shot and Musket balls placed on a Commanding eminence, b[e]low the town, and indeed our whole force was placed in a situation that the enemis flank and front must have been exposed let them make an attack upon what part they would, Every man was waiting with anxiety the approach of the enemy and expected a proud day for his Countary, at the Same time Colo? Cass and McArthur was within a few miles and would have fell upon the enemies rear, (altho[ugh] not known to us at that time) our a[r]my thus placed, I was on the back wall of the garrison viewing the movements of Some Indians that made their appearance in the plain and was catching som[e] horses, and was just de[s]cending the wall with a view of joining colo Finleys flank to meet them when I was Called to by Some of my acquaintances], and informed that a white flag had been raised upon the wall, I was struck with estonishm [e] nt and returned to enquire the caus[e] I was informed that Gnl Hull had ordered our Coulors to be struck and that it was opposed by Colo Miller, but that he had Sent out a flag of truce to the British to capitulate, and had ordered the whole of the troops into the garrison to stack their Arms The British at this time was marching up the Detroit river by Colum[n]s of plato[o]ns twelve men in front and when the head of their colum[n] had ar[r]ived within about 5 hundred yards of our line, when a Single Discharge from the 24 pound [e]r must have dispersed them, orders were received from Gnl Hull for all to retreat to the fort and not to fire upon the En[e]my one universal burst of indignation was apparent upon the receipt of these orders, our troops was immediately crowded into the fort, and two British officers rode up to the Gnls marke[e] they remained there a short time and retired, I made inquiry of the caus[e] and what was done I Soon ascertained that the Gn! had Capitulated and had Surrendered the whole army as Prisoners of War. In entering into this capitulation the Gnl only consulted his own feelings, not an officer was consulted, not one antisipated a Surrender till they Saw the white flag displayed upon the walls. Even the women was indignant at the Shameful degradation of the Americ[an] character, and all felt as they should have felt but he who held in his hands the reins of authority our mornings report from informati[on] was effectiv[e] men fit for duty 1060, exclusive of 300 Michigan militia on duty, The whole force of the enemy both white red and Black was from the best information we could gain about 1030. They They had 29 plattoons twelve in a plattoon of men in Uniform, a number of them must have been Canadian militia, after enquiring into the principles of the capitulation, I assertained that all the U. S troops was to be Sent to Quebeck, and being apprehensive that Gnl Hull would wish to have me Sent with them,  I thought it prudent to leave the garrison previous to the British taking possession I therefore placed my Sword and uniform clothes in my brother [QCapt J Lucas) Trunk threw my musket and cartridge box against the wall and left the fort, I went down in the town of Detroit and passed in the capacity of a citizen, and paid a particular attention to the Proceedings.  The British first placed a peace of Artillery in front of Gnl Hulls Door one at each of our Battery and placed guards to command the defiles round the fort previ[o]us to our troops being marched out of the fort. Their order of march into the fort wa[s] the Regulars and those in Uniform in front, the Militia not in Uniform next a Compa[n]y with handkerch[i]efs round their heads and painted like Indians next and the Indians in the rear Commanded by British officers Dressed and painted like Indians. The Indians was not Suft'ered to go into the fort, I Stood at the corner of the street and Saw them pass me in this order, with indignant feelings, but when our troops was marched out our Coulors Struck and the British Coulors hoisted in their Stead, my feelings was affected beyond expression, My God who could bear the sight without vowing eternal vengeanc[e] against the perpetrators of Such Diabolical acts, and against the Nation that would employ such Detestable Savage allies. To See our Coulors prostitute to See and hear the firing from our own battery and the huzzaws of the British troops the yells of the Savages and the Discharge of small arms, as Signals of joy over our disgrace was scenes too horrid to meditate upon with any other view than to Seek revenge The Indians after the British had got peaceable possession of the fort, gave themselves up to plunder they took and bore away at will, horses and Such other property as fell in their way, they robbed and plund[e]red the the hous[e] of Mr Atwater the Acting Governor and Capt Knag[g]s the Ind[i]an interpreter of every thing they could find, (the Capitulation to the contrary notwithstanding) and many other attrocious acts, I Saw Major Witherall of the Detroit Volunteers Brake his Sword and throw it away and Sev[e]ral Soldiers broke their muskets rather than Surrender them to the British Soon after the British had taken the fort, and made the arrangements by placing g[u]ards at various places in the town I saw Gnl Hull walking linked arms, with a British officer, from the fort to his own hous[e], Posses [s]- ing a more pleasing countenanc[e] than I had ever Seen him, and appeared to be very pleasingly engaged in conversation with him While in town I happened in company with a British officer who was exulting at their conquest. I could not refrain from telling him that the conquest he was boasting of they had obtain [e]d through treachery, and that in my opinion they would not maintain it long, as we could have an army of 10,000 men there in a few months, he appeared to make light of my observations after he retired I was advised by an acquaintance] not to speak my mind so free as the British was Such a haughty people and I was ther[e] in their power, it might operate against me. I had previously formed a determination not to go with them as a prisoner of war altho[ugh] I had heard it stated that the 4 th Rgt and Grnl Lucas was to be Sent on to Quebeck, I knew they did not know my person, and being informed by Major Denny that his Detachment was to be immediately Sent on board a vessel, I thought it desirable to go aboard lest Some of the inhabitants of Detroit Should betray me. I communicated my intention to Some of my confidential friends in or[der] that I might not be betrayed about 3 oclock the Detachm[en]t went aboard the Maria of Prisque isle I requested Ensign Baird to have Capt J Lucas Tru[n]k taken aboard, he being absent with Colo McArthur, which he had done I made Some arrang[e]ments in town and went to the w[h]arf, with them. The British G[u]ard that was at the vessel asked me if I was going aboard I told them I was, he asked me if I was going to stay aboard I answered him also that I was, he then Suffered me to pass aboard without asking any further questions, I went aboard and requested the boys aboard not to call me by any title and told them my reason for making Such request. Soon after I went aboard the vessel dropped down the riv[e]r about a mile and lay too all night Some time that Evening Colo? McArthur and Cass returned with their Detachments, and was Surrendered as prisoners 

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