previous next

MacKINAWinaw, or Michilimackinac

In the bosom of the clear, cold, and damp waters of the strait between Lakes Huron and Michigan—a strait 40 miles in length —stands a limestone rock about 7 miles in circumference, rising in its centre to an altitude of nearly 300 feet, and covered with a rough and generous soil, out of which springs heavy timber. The Indians, impressed by its form, called it Mich-il-imack-i-nac— “The Great Turtle.” On the opposite shore of the peninsula of Michigan, French Jesuits erected a stronghold and called it Fort Michilimackinac, which name has been abbreviated to Mackinaw. This fort fell into the hands of the British, in their conquest of Canada in 1760, but the Indians there remained hostile to their new masters. “You have conquered the French,” they said, “but you have not conquered us.” The most important village of the Chippewas, one of the most powerful tribes of Pontiac's confederacy, was upon the back of Michilimackinac. Early in the summer of 1763 the front of the island was filled with Indians, who, professing warm friendship for the English, invited the garrison at Fort Mackinaw to witness a great game of ball—an

MacKINAWinaw from round Island.

exciting amusement. They did so. At length a ball, making a lofty curve in the air, fell near the pickets. It was a preconcerted signal. The warriors rushed towards the fort as if in quest of the ball, when their hands suddenly pulled [28] gleaming hatchets from beneath their blankets and began a massacre of the garrison; but, hearing that a strong British force was approaching, the Indians abandoned the fort and fled.

This fort came into the possession of the United States in 1796, when the

Fort MacKINAWINAWinawinaw.

Northwestern posts were given up by the British in compliance with the treaty of peace in 1783. The fortification called Fort Holmes, on the high southwest bluff of the island, was garrisoned in 1812 by a small force of Americans, under the command of Lieut. Porter Hancks, of the United States artillery.

It was supported by the higher ground in the rear, on which was a stockade, defended by two block-houses, each mounting a brass 6-pounder. It was isolated from the haunts of men more than half the year by barriers of ice and snow, and exposed to attacks by the British and Indians at Fort St. Joseph, on an island 40 miles northeast from Mackinaw, then commanded by Capt. Charles Roberts. When Sir Isaac Brock, governor of Upper Canada, received at Fort George, on the Niagara River, from British spies, notice of the declaration of war, he despatched an express to Roberts, ordering him to attack Mackinaw immediately. He was directed to summon to his assistance the neighboring Indians, and to ask the aid of the employes of the Northwestern Fur Company. On the morning of July 16 Roberts embarked with a strong motley force of whites and Indians, in boats, bateaux, and canoes, with two 6-pounders, and convoyed by the brig Caledonia, belonging to the Northwestern Fur Company, loaded with provisions and stores. Hancks, suspicious of mischief, sent Captain Daurman to St. Joseph, to observe the temper and disposition of the British there. On his way he met the hostile flotilla, and was made a prisoner. News of the declaration of war had not reached the far-off post of Mackinaw. The overwhelming force under Roberts landed, and took possession of the fort and island. The summons to surrender was the first intimation that Hancks had of the declaration of war. The Indians were ready to massacre the whole garrison if any resistance were made. The post was surrendered without firing a gun.

In the spring of 1814 the Americans planned a land and naval expedition forits recapture. A small squadron was placed at the disposal of Commander St. Clair, and a land force was placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Croghan. They left Detroit at the beginning of July. A part of the force went against the post of the Northwestern Fur Company, at the Falls of St. Mary, the agents of which were among the most active of the British emissaries in inciting the Indians to make war on the Americans. The keepers of the post fled when the armament appeared, and the Americans destroyed everything of value that could not be carried away. Then the whole expedition started for Mackinaw. The [29] force of the Americans was too small to effect a capture, and the enterprise was abandoned. Some vessels cruised in those waters for a time. The expedition returned to Detroit in August, and no further military movements were undertaken in the Northwest, excepting a raid by Gen. Duncan McArthur (q. v.).

McKINLEY, William

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1814 AD (1)
1812 AD (1)
1796 AD (1)
1783 AD (1)
1763 AD (1)
1760 AD (1)
August (1)
July 16th (1)
July (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: