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September 6, 2012

The British account

COOPERSTOWN — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Sept. 5, 1812

Compiled, with comments



Weather: Utica 1812 Almanack: Variable weather.


Bad News! Fall of Detroit

By Major DARBY NOON, who passed through this village, express to Albany, we have received the heart-rending intelligence that the gallant General HULL and his brave army have capitulated and become prisoners to the British! The unfortunate General is a prisoner at Fort-Erie.

We have not learnt all the details of this dreadful disaster — but it would appear from the following extracts from the Buffalo Gazette that there had been considerable skirmishing between our troops and the British. Since the date of these accounts, the British pressed upon Gen. Hull and drove him back near to Detroit; there a short engagement ensued and the American Northwest Army surrendered to the British, consisting of 1000 Indians and 800 regulars

The causes of this deplorable event were the want of sufficient force, the scarcity of provisions, and the unhealthy state of the troops, there being but eight hundred effective men out of 2500. — The sickness of the troops was unquestionably owing to the want of proper provisions. — Utica Gazette.

COMMENT: Most American troops at Detroit were agreed that the real cause was the cowardice of the elderly General William Hull(1753-1825), who surrendered without firing a shot. Among other things he was terrified of the British Indians led by the Chief Tecumseh. Hull was court-martialed, and sentenced to be shot, but his sentence was remitted by President Madison.


The British Account

The pleasing task has now fallen to our lot, in conformation of the uniform predictions of the Bee, to announce to the public the important intelligence of the capture of Detroit with General Hull and all his army, on the 16th (August) together with the Adams vessel of war, and other naval force.

The following is the substance of an official communication, addressed to Col. Myers, upon the subject — the despatches having been forwarded to his Excellency Sir George Prevost, by way of York.

On the night of the 13th inst General [Isaac] Brock arrived at Amhurstburgh, with a reinforcement of 400 men, including militia and regulars, and immediately proceed[ed] to make arrangements for advancing to Sandwich, which the enemy had evacuated a few days before.

On the evening of the 15th a fire was opened from our batteries and continued for an hour with great effect, and recommenced before day on the morning of the 16th, from three mortars, one eighteen pounder and two twelve pounders, at which our troops crossed the river under cover of the Queen Charlotte and Hunter brig, at a point called Spring Wells, about three miles below Detroit, proceeded by a body of 600 Indians who were landed a mile lower down and marched through some thick woods with the intention of covering the left flank.

The landing was effected in good order without any opposition, the General being among the first boats. — Our army consisted of 700 men advanced in a column and took up a good position about a mile and a half in front of Detroit — every preparation was made for the assault of the Fort at one of the sallent [sic - salient] angles, which would have taken place in a few minutes had not a white flag been perceived coming from the garrison, the bearer bringing proposals from the exterminating [sic - ironic?] Gen. Hull, offering to surrender upon conditions which were soon dictated in General Hull’s tent by Captain Clegg and Colonel M’Donnell, A.D.C. to General Brock. —

A detachment of General Hull’s army of 400 men, under the command of Col. M’Arthur, who were on their return to the Fort, were included in the capitulation.

The fruits of this achievement have been the capture of 2500 regulars and militia, and twenty-five pieces of ordnance and other valuable stores, artillery, &c. without the loss of one drop of British blood. — Niagara Bee, August 22.

COMMENT: This appears to be an accurate account of the fall of Detroit, undoubtedly the worst defeat suffered by America during the War of 1812.


Troops Leave Boston

On Thursday a detachment of about 400 U.S. troops from Forts Independence and Warren, under the command of Lieut. Col. JOUS L. TUTTLE, marched through this town on their way to Albany.

They consisted of Infantry and artillery, and were followed by a long train of artillery apparatus, for 30 pieces of Cannon, besides cassons [sic- caissons] of fixed ammunition, travelling forges, tent equipages, baggage waggons, &c. drawn by four horses — 190 horses besides the officers’ were in the train — the whole together made an interesting and novel sight to the citizens of Boston and called up the National feelings of every true American. — Boston Post


Troops from Albany

Yesterday marched from their rendezvous in this city a detachment from Gen. DODGE’s brigade of drafted militia. They have gone to the western frontier — they were accompanied out of town by the Albany band of musicians, and marched with cheerfulness to the defence of their western brethren. This detachment is composed of drafts from the several counties — and promises fair [sic] distinguish itself in the hour of trial. — Albany Register, August 28.

COMMENT: Many American militia units refused to cross into Canada and fight there, on the grounds that they were legally obliged to fight only in their home state.



Last Sunday evening, two native Americans, living in Canada, embarked in a crazy boat....they... safely arrived at 4 mile point, above this village. — Buffalo Aug. 18


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