At the beginning of August, I had the chance to attend my first 1812 Grand Tactical, far from my first Grand Tactical having to attend a couple but for the Napoleonic Wars. But what made this one different is that I was back as a photographer which is how I first started in the hobby back in 2008. But now, ten years later, I had far more experience both as a photographer and as a reenactor. In honour of that, I’ll be presenting this post in a somewhat of a different way, as a newspaper report of a frictional engagement that was used as a basis of the tactical event.

War Comes to the Northern Lake!
An American Invasion captures a key strategic cove

Alexander G. Luyckx, in service of his Britannic Majesty George the Third, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, attached to his Majesty’s 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot, Grenadier Coy.

FRB No. 48 - Derev Pan 400 - Roll No. 3 (Rodinal)
An American warship off Georgian Bay, bombarding the small militia force defending the village of Penetangushine.
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G VR – Derev Pan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+100) 60:00 @ 20C

American forces, under the command of Captain Andrew Sinclair and Lieutenant Colonel George Croghan after the destruction of H.M. Schooner Nancy, bombarded an advanced miltia and regular force before landing a large invasion force in the Georgian Bay region. Local regular, irregular and militia forces attempted to drive the American forces back to their ships in the brave defence of the settlement on Georgian Bay. The invading Americans successfully drove back the British defenders, capturing and forcing the surrender of both Midland and Penetanguishene capturing local leaders and subjecting crown subjects to the ignominious treatment of having their homes and business looted. It is said that among those regiments included in the American force is the notorious Joseph Wilcox and his band of turncoats, who call themselves the Canadian Volunteers. As His Majesty’s forces withdrew in order to resupply and reinforce, support from York marches north along Yonge Street and the Penetangushine Road carved from the wilderness by Lieutenant Colonel Robert McDouall of the Glengarry Light Infantry of Fencibles and the men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment earlier in the year.

FRB No. 48 - Derev Pan 400 - Roll No. 3 (Rodinal)
American infantry landed well outside the settlement of Penetangushine eventaully pushing through the initial British defense.
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G VR – Derev Pan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+100) 60:00 @ 20C
FRB No. 48 - Derev Pan 400 - Roll No. 3 (Rodinal)
Men of the 1st (Royal Scots) Regiment put up a brave action.
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G VR – Derev Pan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+100) 60:00 @ 20C
FRB No. 48 - Derev Pan 400 - Roll No. 3 (Rodinal)
The famous black hackles a mark of pride of the 49th (Hertfordshire) Regiment’s Grenadiers.
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G VR – Derev Pan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+100) 60:00 @ 20C
FRB No. 48 - Derev Pan 400 - Roll No. 3 (Rodinal)
Battalion commander, Lieutenant-Colonel T. Fornier provides superb command of the infantry.
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G VR – Derev Pan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+100) 60:00 @ 20C

Realising they had no hope of Victory, the Crown Forces under the command of Brigadier General C. Williams and Lieutenant Colonel T. Fornier regrouped in the settlement of Penetangushine behind hastily constructed barricades where again they mounted a brave defence, but fearing the loss of life retreated once more and aided by the men of the Royal Navy and Provincial Marine pulled back in order to regroup. However, American forces managed to capture our naval establishment on Georgian Bay.

Project:1867 - Penetanguishene Naval Establishment
His Majesty’s Naval Establishment, now under American Control.
Mamiya m645 – Mamiya-Sekor C 45mm 1:2.8 N – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

The brave men of the brigade were not done yet, in order to screen the planned fortification of nearby Magazine Island a probe landed behind the American lines in order to draw the bulk of the American forces away from the upper section of the establishment. Using a combined force of gunships, regulars, and militia. Along with false information spread through his Majesty’s native allies, the feint worked. And while our men took heavy losses, it gave time for the Royal Artillery and the Royal Navy to fortify nearby Magazine Island in order to properly lay siege and land a large force to force the surrender of the American forces.

First in the Field
Men of the 1st US Rifle Regiment, who had been involved in dasterdly raids against our settlements on the St. Lawerence River now provide an alarm to our landing troops.
Nikon F5 – Tameron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 7:30 @ 20C
Kentucky
Following our victory at the River Raisin, many American brigades include large number of Kentucky Militia.
Nikon F5 – Tameron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 7:30 @ 20C
Opening Up
As we had hoped, the Americans committed a large body of Regular Infantry and Marines.
Nikon F5 – Tameron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 7:30 @ 20C
41st
Men of the 41st bravely fight on.
Nikon F5 – Tameron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 7:30 @ 20C
Well that went...well...
Capt. G Cario of the 2nd York Militia (Thompson’s Coy.) observe the horrid loss of life by our brave soldiers, but for a greater cause.
Nikon F5 – Tameron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 7:30 @ 20C

Not allowing the American forces to regroup after the afternoon’s defence of their beachhead, British troops began their landing as the sun began to set. Artillery batteries mounted on Magazine Island engaged in a dual with American forces on the mainland. Included in the island battery is a battery of Congreve Rockets along with the surviving gun crews of H.M. Sloop Nancy. British forces landed on the beach under heavy shore fire from American infantry, marines, militia and artillery.

First Nations
Native Allies harrised the American artillery from the water.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C
In Bound!
Royal Navy and Provincial Marine gunboats, launches, and bateaux provided landing craft for infantry forces.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C
Rough Landings
The men of the Canadian Fensibles faced heavy fire from an elevated and fortified position as they made their landing.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

With brutal discipline and force, the British forces unleashed a level of violence not seen in the previous engagement. The American defenders on the beach soon melted away under heavy fire from the Glengarry Light Infantry and the Light Company of the 1st (Royal Scots) Regiment. Providing a strong landing site for the main body. The Americans put up a strong defence but were forced into a retreat which they executed with honour. Both sides fought to a standstill and a temporary truce was enacted to allow both sides to bury their dead and treat the wounded. That night the surgeon’s knife did not stop and the screams were heard from both camps.

The First Ones
Intial forces quickly take the beach from the Americans.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C
Retreating
The Kentucky Militia retreat while under fire.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C
Super Casual
Men of the 89th begin the slow fight up into the establishment.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C
Nothing but Smoke
Heavy fire and the lack of wind caused a haze of powder smoke the fill the air.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C
Returning the Favour
Despite overwhelming attackers, the Americans continued to fight back.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C
Can you hear the Scream
Proper disapline kept the troops in line.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

By the following afternoon and the American lines now in disarray and severely crippled the British force marched forward and engaged the American pickets. Brave light infantry troops from several regiments stood up to a desperate group of defenders. Despite their crippled force, the Americans made the men of the Crown Forces pay with both sides taking heavy losses. Both light infantry and line infantry troops fought bravely in the face of overwhelming odds as the forces of the Royal Navy and Provincial Marine patrolled the shore to prevent many Americans from retreating. With their backs to the water, the American commanders offered their swords to General Williams, who as a man of honour allowed them to keep their personal arms in order to secure their parole and surrender.

Skirmishers on the Line
Light troops on the line keep the Americans pinned down in order to allow the main line to move up.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Cinestill BwXX @ ASA-200 – Cinestill D96 (Stock) 6:30 @ 20C

Reloading
A small force of Marines survived the night.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Cinestill BwXX @ ASA-200 – Cinestill D96 (Stock) 6:30 @ 20C
Point of Ignition
A sharpshooter from the Glengarry Light Infantry.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Cinestill BwXX @ ASA-200 – Cinestill D96 (Stock) 6:30 @ 20C
After the Volley
The main British line moving forward.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Cinestill BwXX @ ASA-200 – Cinestill D96 (Stock) 6:30 @ 20C
Pushing Back
The Americans begin to be pushed back.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Cinestill BwXX @ ASA-200 – Cinestill D96 (Stock) 6:30 @ 20C
Once More.
One last push before the surrender.
Nikon F5 – Tamron AF 100-300mm 1:5-6.3 – Cinestill BwXX @ ASA-200 – Cinestill D96 (Stock) 6:30 @ 20C

With the establishment secured the American prisoners sent home under parole or under guard to Kingston and Quebec City General Williams thanked the sacrifice of the men who gave their lives. In a rare break in discipline, the British force let out a cheer both for their victory and the brave efforts of their gallant foe.

God Save the King
Alexander G. Luyckx Esq,
In his Majesty’s Photographic Service

In reality, the action described here did not actually happen during the Anglo-American War of 1812. But that doesn’t mean Lake Huron was quiet during the war. Several small actions took place on the shores of Georgian Bay. The Battle of Lake Huron which took place at the end of August 1814 took place at Wasaga Beach with the destruction of the H.M. Schooner Nancy by an American Navy and Army force. The surviving crew along with members of the garrison at Mackinac Island captured the two remaining American ships the US Schooner Tigress and US Schooner Scorpion in what is known as the Battle of Lake Huron. On a technical note, it has been some time since I shot an entire event, not to mention so much of it on film. And overall I am rather pleased with how many shots turned out and the magic of black & white in this case. Not only that but doing all this while dressed in period garb, that means that I wore wool trousers, a long-sleeved shirt with just a simple waistcoat, boots, and a broad-brimmed straw hat. This of course juxtaposed with modern cameras, the Nikon F5 and Sony a6000 (with a 200mm Pentax lens). At least my newest lens, the Tamron 100-300mm used in many of the battles proved to be both smaller and lighter than my massive 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. And despite being slower made up for it in image quality. And in several areas, the conditions proved less than ideal from shooting into the setting sun from an elevated position for the naval assault and fighting both crowds and site staff getting in my way. Either way, both cameras proved up to the task as did the three film stocks I used (Foma 100, RPX 400, and Cinestill XX (Eastman Double-X)). Overall a fun experience, though I did miss shooting the musket.

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