Chapter Five, It Begins
Invasion [page 165]
First Blood [page 173]
The descriptions of the Detroit River frontier of Upper Canada, its geography and inhabitants, are inspired by Part 1 of Sandy Antal’s “A Wampum Denied, Procter’s War of 1812,” pages 1-64.
In regard to July 12, 1812, the day of American General Hull’s invasion of Upper Canada, Robert Lucas, an American “gentleman volunteer” in Hull’s army says of that Sunday afternoon, “. . . a party of regulars went down as low as Sandwich and procured some flour out of a mill. The inhabitants all fled in different directions from us.
The complete text of General Hull’s Proclamation, presented in part on pages 172-3, may be found in Tupper, ‘Correspondence’, pages 207/208, and numerous other historical sources. It makes for remarkable reading regarding official American attitudes, both in respect to their own nation, and also the measures which they were prepared to undertake in accomplishing their war goals. The proposition that First Nations defended their own lives and homelands, at the behest of the British is prominent, along with a promise to murder any white person who dared assist the Nations in protecting their own lives are of particular interest.
Robert Lucas’ ‘Journal’ recounts desultory fighting on the eastern, Upper Canada, side of the Detroit River lasting until American withdrawal on July 25, as does “The Chronicles of Thomas Vercheres de Boucherville” from Milo Quaife’s “War on the Detroit.”
The death of Hancock and the wounding and capture of Dean are mentioned in passing. The account here is based on Antal’s “A Wampum Denied” pages 47-48.
The fight at the Canard River ford is largely fictional though illustrative of what went on for almost two weeks and is based upon Richardson and the journals published by Milo Quaife in “War on the Detroit.” That is, British and Canadien forces were ineffective except behind barriers; the small numbers of First Nations warriors offered the most effective resistance to American forces who fought in a similar manner i.e. from the shelter of trees, rocks, etc. – certainly not in open ranks as British regulars were initially trained to do. “Richardson’s”, page 38, relates “ . . .they [Indians] afforded us, on more than one occasion, the most convincing proofs that without the assistance of the Indian Warriors, the defence of so great a portion of Western Canada, . . . would have proved a duty of great difficulty and doubt.”
HMS Queen Charlotte served as a floating fortress and was the factor most instrumental in keep Americans north of the Canard River. Perhaps even more important was General Hull’s refusal to advance on Fort Amherstburg without cannons, which after a week and a half were still not ready to deploy for lack of carriages. On a couple of occasions, American forces breached the Canard River line but General Hull would not advance to attack Fort Amherstburg, saying at his court martial, “My opinion was that an attempt on [Amherstburg] should never be made until they was an absolute certainty of success,” Antal, page 51. To Hull, success meant cannons.