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The Battle of Mackinac Island - 1814 - OU02F1

 Historical Marker for the Battle of Mackinac Island

Hidden by  DJCreekCachers

N 45° 52.284' W 84° 37.958' (WGS84)

 Coordinates in Other Systems
 Location: United States > Michigan
 Cache Type: Virtual
 Size: No container
 Status: Ready for Search
 Date Hidden: 11 August 2011
 Date Created: 11 August 2011
 Last Modified: 10 October 2011
 Waypoint: OU02F1

 


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GeoKrety History

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Kid Friendly Wheelchair Access Historic Site Listed on OCNA Only 

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Description   EN   

 

Congratulations to Cyclops - FTF

Historical Marker

The Battle of Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) was a British victory in the War of 1812.  Before the war, Fort Mackinac had been an important American trading post in the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It was important for its influence and control over the Native American tribes in the area, which was sometimes referred to in historical documents as "Michilimackinac".

On 18 July 1812, a mixed force of British regular soldiers, Canadian voyageurs and Native Americans captured the island in the Siege of Fort Mackinac before the American defenders knew that war had been declared. The news of this success influenced many more Native tribes who had previously been neutral or undecided to rally to the British cause, contributing to several more British victories over the next year. The British meanwhile abandoned their own defenses at St. Joseph Island and concentrated their forces at Mackinac Island.

For the rest of the year and through much of 1813, the British hold on Mackinac was secure since they also held Detroit, which the Americans would have to recapture before attacking Mackinac. Then on 10 September 1813, the Americans won the decisive naval Battle of Lake Erie, which allowed them to recover Detroit and defeat the retreating British and Native force at the subsequent Battle of the Thames. Although it was too late in the year to allow the Americans to mount an expedition to recover Mackinac before the lakes froze in winter, they had nevertheless cut the British supply lines to the post. The British garrison, commanded by Captain Richard Bullock of the 41st Regiment of Foot, were placed on half rations and also procured some fish and maize locally.

British Defenses

In February 1814, Lieutenant Colonel Robert McDouall of the Glengarry Light Infantry was ordered to re-establish communications with Mackinac and take charge of the post. McDouall's first task was to open a new supply line from York via Yonge Street and Lake Simcoe to the Nottawasaga River, which flows into Georgian Bay. The Nottawasaga was selected in preference to the established post at Penetanguishene on Matchedash Bay, as the overland portage was shorter, although the navigation was more uncertain, as it was obstructed by rocks and shoals.  McDouall's party consisted of ninety men of the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles, most of whom were accustomed to serving as marines, and eleven artillerymen with four field guns. He also brought with him twenty-one sailors of the Royal Navy to reinforce the crew of the schooner Nancy, which was being refitted at St. Joseph Island at the time, and thirty carpenters to assist in constructing thirty batteaux.

On 19 April, McDouall's batteaux began descending the river with the Newfoundlanders, artillerymen and sailors, and reached the Lake on 25 April. He arrived at Mackinac on 18 May, carrying a large quantity of provisions for the hungry garrison and the Native allies, having lost only one boat en route despite stormy weather. A few days later he was reinforced by another 200 Native Americans, who were under the nominal leadership of Lieutenant Robert Dickson of the Indian Department.

McDouall ordered the defenses of the island to be strengthened. The existing fort was situated on a ridge which dominated the harbour on the south side of the island, but was itself overlooked by another wooded ridge, the highest point on the island. In 1812, the British had dragged artillery to this ridge to compel the fort to surrender. McDouall's troops built a stockade and blockhouse on the upper ridge, naming the new fortification Fort George. However, McDouall was compelled to weaken his garrison by despatching an expedition under William McKay (who held the local rank of Lieutenant Colonel) to recover the distant post at Prairie du Chien.

American Plans

In 1814, the Americans attempted to retake the island as part of a larger campaign designed to sever the fur trading alliance between the British and the Natives in the northwestern states and territories. The United States Secretary of the Navy, William Jones, supported an attack on Mackinac as this would provide employment for the vessels of the American squadron on Lake Erie, which otherwise would have little further useful part to play in the war. While Governor William Clark mounted an expedition to recover Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi River (which prompted McDouall to despatch McKay's force), the expedition to Mackinac was prepared at Detroit, and Brigadier General Duncan McArthur established Fort Gratiot at the southern end of Lake Huron as an advanced base.

On 3 July, a squadron of five American brigs and gunboats under Commodore Arthur Sinclair sailed from Detroit, carrying an embarked landing force of 700 soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Croghan. The force consisted of an ad hoc battalion of regular infantry (made up of five detached companies of the 17th, 19th and 24th U.S. Infantry) under Major Andrew Holmes and a battalion of volunteers from the Ohio militia, with detachments of artillery.

Rather than make directly for Mackinac, the American squadron first searched Matchedash Bay for the base from which the British at Mackinac were supplied. As the weather was foggy and the Americans had little intelligence on the British locations and no pilots familiar with the area, which abounded with islets and sunken rocks, they found nothing.[6] They then sailed to St. Joseph Island, which had been the original British military post in 1812, but found it had been abandoned. They burned the empty post, and also the Canadian North West Company trading post at Sault Sainte Marie.

The Americans finally arrived off Mackinac on 26 July. Their delayed arrival had given McDouall ample warning, and he had further reinforced his defenses by calling in the last two companies of militia left to defend St. Joseph Island and Sault Ste. Marie.

Battle

The American ships attempted to bombard the fort for two days, with most of the shot falling harmlessly in vegetable gardens around the fort. Sinclair discovered that the new British blockhouse, Fort George, stood too high for the naval guns to reach. A dense fog then forced the American squadron away from the island for a week. When they returned, Croghan decided to land on the north side of the island roughly where the British had landed in 1812 (the present-day community of British Landing) and work his way through the woods to attack the blockhouse. The American brigs and gunboats bombarded the woods around the landing site to flush out any Natives, further sacrificing any chance of gaining surprise.

Rather than wait to be attacked, McDouall left only 25 militiamen in Fort Mackinac and another 25 in the blockhouse[7] and advanced with the main body of his force to occupy low breastworks which faced a clearing which lay on the Americans' line of advance. His force consisted of 140 men of the Royal Newfoundland and the locally raised Michigan Fencibles, and 150 Menominee Indians from the Wisconsin River, who McDouall considered to be the best fighters at his disposal, and one 6-pounder and one 3-pounder field guns.

When the Americans emerged from the woods into the clearing, they were easy targets for the British guns. Croghan brought up two 6-pounder guns, but meanwhile he sent his Ohio Volunteers, leading the advance, to outflank the British left, and sent the detachment of regulars through the woods around the British right. These manoeuvres proceeded very slowly, because of the difficult terrain. While they were in progress, a false report of another American landing west of the fort caused McDouall to withdraw the Newfoundland and Michigan Fencibles, but the American regulars were ambushed by the Indians. Thirteen Americans were killed, including Major Holmes and two other officers, fifty-one were wounded (including Captain Benjamin Desha, second in command of the regulars) and the Americans were thrown into confusion. McDouall meanwhile discovered that there was no landing behind him, and moved his redcoated infantry back into their positions.

The heavy losses and confusion among the United States regulars, and the return of McDouall's infantry, forced Croghan to order his men to retreat through the woods to the beach. Two wounded Americans were left to be taken prisoner. The Americans rowed back to their ships, leaving the fort in the British hands until the end of the war.

Aftermath

The American expedition subsequently located the post at the Nottawasaga River. On 15 August, they captured it and destroyed the schooner Nancy which had taken refuge there, before returning to Detroit. Commodore Sinclair left the gunboats USS Tigress and USS Scorpion to blockade Mackinac, hoping to starve the garrison into surrender before the following spring. In the Engagement on Lake Huron, both vessels fell into British hands, securing the British hold on the entire region.

Most of the site of the Battle of Mackinac Island is now the Wawashkamo Golf Links, laid out in 1898.

 

Unknown Soldiers Marker

Unknown Soldiers Marker

A map of the island including hiking trails can be downloaded at the following link: http://www.uptrails.org/michigan-trail-maps/mackinacislandlocatormap.pdf

This virtual cache is located on a paved bike/walking path located on British Landing Road.  The marker and other historical information is only a few feet off the path and is easy to reach.

Logging Requirements: Post a photograph of yourself with your GPS unit standing next to one of the two markers; the Michigan Historical Sight Marker or the Memorial to the Unknown Soldiers Marker.

The logging password is the first two words of the sentence located at the bottom of the Map of the Battlefield beside the historical marker.

 


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Log Entries    {{found}} 1x {{not_found}} 0x {{comment}} 1x      New Log Entry

1 07 October 2011 Cyclops Found it

I was on the island for some cache maintenance and to enjoy a fine fall weekend.  TFTC
Pictures Connected with this Log Entry:
Cyclops at The Battle of Mackinac Island - 1814
Cyclops at The Battle of Mackinac Island - 1814

3 26 September 2011 DJCreekCachers Comment

This virtual cache was featured on the PodCacher Podcast Show 338, 9-26-2011.

To listen or download the PodCacher Podcast follow this link: http://www.podcacher.com

Keep on Cachin'