Monday, May 2, 2011

Seige of Fort Meigs... 198 Years Ago

A 5.5 inch howitzer at Fort Meigs State Historic Site, Perrysburg Ohio. Three of the forts batteries overlook the lower fords of the Maumee River.

Having just returned from a week-long trip, I've decided to make a series of posts on the Battle of Fort Meigs, the anniversary of which is this week. I'm currently researching a book about the 1813 campaign of General William Henry Harrison to recapture Detroit during the War of 1812.

198 years ago today, Fort Meigs in modern-day Perrysburg Ohio has been under siege by a combined British and Native American force for five days. Beginning on April 28, 1813, forces under General Henry Procter surrounded Maj. General William Henry Harrison's Northwest Army at the fortified camp. Captain Daniel S. Cushing of the Second United States Regiment of Artillery kept a diary of the siege:

Saturday, May First-- At 2 o'clock in the morning the British opened their artillery upon our garrison from their gun-boats, which lay one and one-half miles below us, but it was without effect. At 8 o'clock they hoisted the red flag at their lower battery and commenced firing with 24, 12 and 6 pounders, and eight inch mortars. They fired at us this day 240 shot and shells; did very little damage. They continued firing shells through the night but not often, just enough to keep our camp from rest. We keep up a heavy fire on them all day from different parts of our camp, the Indians are very thick on our flank and in our rear. We have not more than two killed and four wounded today.

Sunday, 2nd-- They kept up their bombardment all night, but not very often, enough to keep the men on the watch.This morning they commenced a heavy fire from all their batteries both with cannonade and bombs, and our camp is completely surrounded with Indian and British keeping up a heavy fire of musketry and rifles. They threw at us this day about 350 shot, a large proportion of them red hot; we had about 4 killed, 7 wounded this day, they keep up the business of sending over their shells this evening.

Map of the siege by John Richardson, a Canadian veteran of the 1813 campaign (with some spoilers).