Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Siege of Fort Meigs: April 24

 © Rémi Jouan, CC-BY-SA, GNU Free Documentation License, Wikimedia Commons

 A British Fleet Departs to Invade Ohio

200 years ago today, a British squadron weighed anchor in the Detroit River and sailed south across the western end of Lake Erie to the mouth of the Maumee River. 

They had a large fleet, composed of two brigs, four schooners, and two gunboats as well as a swarm of smaller open boats. Brigadier General Henry Procter's small army of about 500 regular soldiers from the 41st Regiment of Foot and 400 Canadian militia from three different militia regiments climbed aboard. They also packed a powerful train of artillery, including two massive 24-pounder siege guns and several 8-inch howitzers.

Journal of Major Peter L Chambers, 1st Battalion, 41st Regiment of Foot. Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General to the British Right Division:

Sailed from hence at 10 o'clock A.M. Same night arrived at the Miamis, disembark'd the next day and camped at Point au Chene.
"Point au Chene" is Oak Point in French. I'm not sure if there is a modern place called by this name, but the spot was somewhere on the shore of Maumee Bay. 

It was near the mouth of the Maumee River that the British and Canadian troops met their Indian allies: about 1200 warriors from almost all the nations of the Northwestern frontier, led by Chief Tecumseh. Among his most notable followers were the Wyandot chiefs Walk-in-the-Water and Roundhead, as well as the Sac leader Black Hawk.

Meantime, at Fort Meigs General Harrison had arrived, along with most of the troops who had been rushed up to augment the scarecrow garrison:

Head Quarters Camp Meigs April 24th 1813
 Genl Orders
                  The whole of the Troops at this place Major Johnsons command excepted will be mustered & inspected and inspected on the last day of the present month all the Non-commissioned Officers & Privates on Extra duty will on that day Join their respective Companies-- The Commandants of Corps will apply to Major Hukile [Major Levi Hukill, 2nd US Light Dragoons] for blank Muster Rolls-- It is expected by the General that the Arms, Accoutrements, Clothing of the men will be in the most complete Order-- The General has again to complain of the inattention to the Police of the Camp-- The regulations for the preservation of Cleanliness must be better observed--It shall be the duty of the Officer of the day to point out to the commanding Officers of Corps any defect as to the police of the part of the Camp under their Control-- And if any such defect or nuisance is not immediately removed the Officer of the day will report the Officer neglecting it to the General...
...No Noncommissioned Officer or Private is to be suffered to go to fish without taking his Arms nor are any to be allowed to go further down the river than the lower part of the first Bottom below the Camp nor above more than half a mile from the landing nor is any one to cross the river without permission from the General-- No fishing will be allowed until after Seven O'Clock in the morning--