Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bicentennial of the surrender of Detroit

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Little noted today, it is the 200th anniversary of a seminal moment in Detroit history. On Aug. 16, 1812, British forces invaded the town of Detroit after the surrender of U.S. forces by Brig. Gen. William Hull. After a day of British and American forces exchanging cannon fire across the Detroit river on Aug. 15, it was on this date that Hull sent up the white flag and allowed the British to occupy our fair city. Though British and native forces were small, Hull was fooled by a ruse some say was though up by the native leader Tecumseh. Tecumseh "extended his men, and marched them three times through an opening in the woods at the rear of the fort in full view of the garrison, which induced [Hull] to believe there were at least two or three thousand Indians."

For being fooled into surrendering the fort and the town, Hull was court-martialed and sentenced to death, a prosecution no doubt fueled by the outrage of his underling Lewis Cass. The sentence was later commuted by President James Madison at the war's conclusion. But this episode would cement Cass' reputation as a tough customer, and put him on a track to be territorial governor here, changing the course of Michigan history.

And, on a personal note, one of this writer's ancestors was George Buchendahl, who was a member of Button's troop of cavalry and served under General Brock at the capture of this city.

And I'm gratified they took Detroit without firing a shot.

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