Tag: fortification

Project:1812 – Fort McHenry

Project:1812 – Fort McHenry

To the American people, Fort McHenry is the most important symbol to continuing American freedom in the face of the British Empire, due to one single action during the greater War of 1812. Situated on a spit of land and stands to this day watching over Baltimore’s harbor. The original fort, however, was not called McHenry, but rather Fort Whetstone. Constructed on Whetstone Point, the five-point star earthworks fort was placed in an ideal spot to defend the city without its guns endangering the city itself. Whetstone was constructed by the Continental Army to defend Baltimore against potential British attacks which never materialized. But the end of the American Revolution it became clear that a stronger defensive position would be needed.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
The Main gate of the fort. The flag pole to the left is where the star spangled banner still flies today. Just not when I was there, too windy.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

By 1797, the War Department earmarked 20,000$ for improvements at Whetstone Point. Construction of a new masonry fort began in 1798 based on a design by Jean Foncin with the construction of the new fort was completed in 1800. The new fortification would take the name Fort McHenry, named for the Secretary of War, James McHenry. McHenry served in the post under two American Presidents, George Washington and John Adams and had approved the construction of the new post. The new fort was again a start design, but where Whetstone had points, McHenry had bastions ensuring that there would not be any blind spots. Inside the fort stood stone barracks, a powder magazine and separate quarters for the commanding officer. The fort’s guns would ensure that no ship could easily approach Baltimore, and a dry ditch surrounding the fort ensured that an infantry assault would be suicide for any attacker.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
A War of 1812 era gun battery display outside of the fort. Most of the fort’s displayed artillery dates to the Civil War
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

And it worked, for a majority of the War, Fort McHenry stood as a silent sentry over Baltimore. As the war moved into the second year, the city of Baltimore prepared for any attack as the Royal Navy stepped up their operations along the eastern seaboard. While General Samuel Smith fortified the city, the new commander of Fort McHenry, Major George Armistead, began to upgrade the fort’s defenses. And added a personal touch, a new garrison flag made by a local woman to rival the flag he had at his former post, Fort Niagara. And on 13 September 1814, the attack did come. A British assault fleet would over the course of 27 hours fire over 2,000 projectiles at a range of 3 kilometers at the fort. McHenry would only suffer damage to the powder magazine (thoughtfully emptied) and one of its bastions. The British would withdraw having failed to break the fort. The attack, witnessed by Francis Scott Key, would inspire the Washington Lawyer to pen the poem “The Defense of Fort M’Henry.”

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
Two barracks upon entering the fort proper. During the War of 1812 they only had a single story.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

During the middle of the 19th Century, the fort’s internal buildings would be expanded or replaced with new construction. When the United States was torn in two during the American Civil War, Fort McHenry would serve a dual purpose. A new battery of Rodman Guns served to train artillery crews posted to more frontline forts. The second, darker purpose, was a military prison. Fort McHenry housed both Confederate soldiers captured in battle but also local citizens feared to have leanings towards the Confederate States of America. In an odd twist of irony, Francis Key Howard, the grandson of Francis Scott Key, was held at the fort. The fort would continue to serve the armed services as a general hospital when the United States entered the First World War and as a training base for the Coast Guard during the Second World War.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
A battery of Rodman Guns from the Civil War. They were undergoing restoration when I visited.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

By the 20th Century, the fort already was designated as a national park (1925) and a national monument and historic shrine (1939) it finally received a national historic place designation in 1966. The fort also holds the honour of being the first place any newly designed American flag would fly before being widely distributed due to the now famous Star Spangled Banner, the large garrison flag Armistead had ordered in 1813. Today the fort is one of Baltimore’s popular tourist destinations. Most of the buildings constructed during the First and Second World Wars have been torn down and the fort today appears as it would have during the American Civil War. As for Armistead’s Star Spangled Banner, that flag is now displayed on permanent collection at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Project:1812 - Fort McHenry
A statue of Artmistead, the fort’s celebrity commander.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Written With Files From:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1989. Print.
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812 Volume 2. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Web: www.nps.gov/fomc/index.htm
Web: wardepartmentpapers.org/document.php?id=27413
Web: www.hahs.us/flags/r18.pdf

Project:1812 – The Forts of Maine

Project:1812 – The Forts of Maine

During the British invasion and subsequent occupation of what is today eastern Maine, there were several forts involved in the action. While many have unique histories, there isn’t much to give each one their blog entry. So I’ve decided, for the sake of you readers, to combine them all into a single post. In the interests of geography, I’ll be moving from east to west if you want to follow along the route on a map.

Project:1812 - Fort Furieuse
The historic sign is the only remains of Fort Furieuse in Castine, Maine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The small settlement of Eastport, Maine is located on the formerly contested spit of land named Moose Island. Located near the New Brunswick/Maine border, the US Army fearing British encroachment established Fort Sullivan in 1808. A single four gun circular battery with a powder magazine, blockhouse, and barracks. The island remained in the care of Major Perley Putnam and a small garrison of men from the 40th US Infantry. When the British showed up in the fall of 1814, Major Putnam surrendered without a fight. The British renamed the fort after the governor of Nova Scotia, John Coape Sherbrooke and left 800 regulars to prevent any American attempt at retaking the fort. When the war ended with the Treaty of Gent in 1815, the issue with the border remained unsettled, even though the treaty stipulated that every return to how it was before the war, the border wasn’t settled before the war. As a result, Moose Island and Fort Sherbrooke remained in British hands until 1818. When the American army returned the fort reverted to Fort Sullivan and the garrison would stay at the fort until 1873. The post remained intact until 1880 when the locals began to remove items for constructing other town buildings, today there is little left. A sign marks the location of the fort and a cannon from the war now sits in front of Shead High School, that sits next to the fort site. The powder magazine should still be there; I was unable to locate the ruins. The 1808 Barracks moved from the old fort site to Washington Street and now house the local historical society and town museum.

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The Historic Sign marking the site of Fort Sullivan, I was unable to locate the ruins of the powder magazine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The 1812 era cannon on display
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Sullivan
The 1808 Barracks at their new location
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Next along the route is Fort O’Brien in the Town of Machiasport, Maine. One of the oldest forts on the list, the post, was built in 1775 as Fort Machias by two officers in the Continental Army, Captain Jeremiah O’Brien, and Major Benjamin Foster. Established in response to a possible attack following the capture by American forces of the HM Schooner Margaretta. The British attack was swift and in 1777 chased off the defenders, but the British did not stick around, and the fort was reoccupied by 1781 under the name Fort O’Brien. With the end of the Revolution, the fort was abandoned and fell into disrepair. When border disputes in the early 19th century threatened to boil over the old post was rebuilt a stone and earth bastion mounted four guns. The fort never saw action during the British invasion of 1814 but was the final American post that was destroyed by the British after they had established the occupation. The British simply took the guns and demolished the position rather than commit the troops to occupy it. The American army would rebuild the post for the third time during the American Civil War mounting three 32-pound cannons along with a pair of rifled 24-pound guns. Due to the position the fort never saw action and was abandoned in 1865. Today a single brass Napoleon gun from the civil war is mounted on the earthworks; the powder magazine is still there as an overgrown mound. The site is designated a state park and sits behind Fort O’Brien School.

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
A close up of a Napoleon Brass Cannon from the Civil War Era
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
A wide look at the earthworks that remain at the site
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort O'Brien
The old powder magazine over grown
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

A fascinating fort on my journey was Fort George in Castine, Maine as it has the richest history of all the forts. Established in 1779 as the primary British post in the colony of New Ireland. Major General Francis McLean would hold out against a great American Siege in the later days of the American Revolutionary War. Fort George is also the largest fort visited, sitting on a ridge above the village of Castine, with a clear view of the Penobscot River. The American force of 45 ships and 200 infantry failed to dislodge General McLean and were compelled to flee upriver and burn their ships. The debacle known as the Penobscot Expedition would be a low point during the Revolution. The massive earthen walls would remain above the town, and when General Sherbrooke arrived in 1814, he would order the post rebuilt when he reestablished New Ireland. The 200 square-foot Fort would mount some 60 guns, and the British surrounded the town with a ring of smaller forts and artillery batteries. When the war ended the garrison marched out in 1815 with much fanfare from the townsfolk. The American Army would occupy the old British fort until 1819 when Fort Knox was completed further up the river. Today you can still see the massive earth walls as well as the ruins of a casemate and powder magazine. A small marker in one of the bastion identifies the site, and a lone cannon from the British occupation is just by the parking lot. The interior of the fort has a baseball diamond.

Project:1812 - Fort George
Casemate ruins at Fort George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort George
The old Powder Magazine
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort George
Play Ball! What better use for a 200 square foot area than a baseball diamond!
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

The final fort that I visited was Fort Madison, also located in Castine, Maine. Established in 1808 during the border tensions between the United States and British North America the simple earthen bastion mounted four 24-pound cannons, a blockhouse, and brick magazine. It would be the only fort to engage the British during the invasion in the fall of 1814, the garrison commander; Lieutenant Andrew Lewis would fire a single volley from the heavy guns before beating a retreat. The British would operate the post as Fort Castine during the occupation. At the end of the war, the British destroyed Fort Castine along with the rest of their fortifications when they retreated in 1815. The American army would operate the post until 1819 before moving all operations north to Fort Knox. During the American Civil War, the site was rebuilt and manned by local volunteer troops who operated the site, calling it Fort United States. The Civil War-era earthworks still stand, and the site is a city park, an 1812 era cannon is located at the site as well.

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
The Historic marker for Fort Madison
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
A War of 1812 era 24-Pound Cannon that marks Fort Madison, it’s twin is now up at Fort George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - Fort Madison
Looking down at the Civil War Earthworks
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – FA-1027 (1+14) 5:00 @ 20C

While not much to look at, in reality, none of them having anything beyond some old cannons, earthworks, and maybe an information sign they still make up a strange and relatively unknown part of the War of 1812 and themselves weaved into the fabric of the tale. I do highly recommend visiting at least Castine, Maine as they have a thriving historical society that loves to share their town’s history with any who are interested.

Special Thanks to the Castine Historical Society for helping me on my journey and providing additional information and location details!

Written with Files From:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
Young, George F. W. The British Capture & Occupation of Downeast Maine, 1814-1815/1818. Print.
Web: castine.me.us/welcome/history/history-of-castine/

Project:1812 – Fortress Halifax

Project:1812 – Fortress Halifax

Halifax, it’s hard not to be reminded of the military past of the capital of Nova Scotia, just look up from the downtown and you’ll see the massive hill that rises above the town. Or see the Royal Canadian Navy sailing in and out of the harbor. Or even see the old fortifications that dot the islands in the harbor or see the old gun batteries along the shoreline. The saying goes that a strong defense is a potent offense, except in Halifax’s case where a strong defense is just that, a defense. From the mid 18th-century through to the middle of the 20th-century Halifax was a fortress, so much so that it was never directly attacked by land or by sea during those turbulent years.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The Main Entrance to the Halifax Citadel.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Let’s go back to 1749, what we know today as the Maritimes was heavily contested between France and England. The French had their stronghold at Louisbourg which had recently been returned to them under the treaty that ended the War of Austrian Succession after it’s capture by British forces from New England in 1745. So to counter-balance the French presence in the Atlantic Lord Edward Cornwallis established what we know today as Halifax. While the Royal Navy built their dockyard, Cornwallis constructed a simple redoubt at the top of the hill and continued to extend walls around the new city. Halifax would have a defensive ring of five forts, but the fort on the hill he named Fort George, after King George II. The British would also fortify George’s Island as well. This first citadel would continue to defend the city through those early colonial wars along with the Seven Years/French-Indian War.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The central building in the Citadel. Houses the various museums, offices, and shops connected to the site.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

The defenses at Halifax got a major upgrade during the American Revolution, trenches, redoubts, artillery batteries and a massive octagonal blockhouse was constructed on citadel hill. By the time the second citadel was constructed in 1776, it had boasted a garrison of one hundred men and an artillery battery of 86 guns. But that was nothing compared to the ring of defenses that now surrounded the city. Batteries had been set up on both sides of the harbor and several islands. England did not want their navy to come under attack from the upstart revolutionaries from the thirteen colonies. Fortress Halifax would become known as the Warden of the North. And it worked, Halifax never came under attack by American or French forces during the war, and it remained loyal to the British Crown throughout the conflict. Even after the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution, the garrison remained on guard against American Privateers.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
An example of a heavy rifled muzzle loading cannon from the late 19th century.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

By the end of the 18th-Century, the British faced a new threat, that of a Revolutionary-era France. With a new conflict brewing, Fort George and Citidal Hill received the third upgrade. The old blockhouse was demolished, and the top of the hill leveled off and lowered. A new fortress was constructed at the peak and a new four-bastion star fort built. A massive blockhouse and magazine were built inside earthwork walls. The French again never reached North America, it was only the Threat of the Anglo-American War of 1812 that saw the citadel and the surrounding fortifications completed. The American government knew that to remove the British from North America would mean attacking Halifax. But it didn’t exactly go to their plans and the Royal Navy and the sheer size and scope of Halifax’s defenses kept the Americans at bay.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The Ditch of death, if invaders managed to breach the initial lines of defense they would be slaughtered by anti-infantry fire from muskets and cannon.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

With the end of the American war, the British began to look at their fortifications of British North America and quickly realized that they needed to improve them if they were to hold the land against any future American attacks. Construction of the fourth citadel began in 1828 using the outline of the third citadel, but many changes in the plans resulted in a twenty-eight year construction period. The earthwork walls were replaced with limestone and soon the citadel began the central point for the Halifax Defensive Complex. Anyone who even attempted to attack the city would face certain destruction against eleven forts, seven artillery batteries, and three Martello towers. The British Army and Royal Navy would continue to occupy the Halifax complex well past the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 eventually turning over the complex to Canada in 1906.

Project:1812 - Fortress Halifax
The view from the top of the Citadel is far different from what it was even a short seventy years ago.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

With the advent of heavy rifled artillery, the Halifax Citadel was considered obsolete but it continued to serve as headquarters for the entire defense complex throughout the First World War. During that conflict the use of the citadel took a darker turn, serving as an internment camp for those who the government had labeled as enemy aliens, mostly those of German decent. The final military use of the citadel was acting as a headquarters for the coordination of anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defenses.

Bayonet Drill
Modern day employees portray the 78th Highland Regiment of Foot, the unit most known for their time stationed in Halifax.
Sony a6000 – Sony E PZ 16-50mm 1:3.5-5.6 OSS

After the Second World War, the fort was essentially abandoned, and while it had received some restoration work in the 1930s it was beginning to suffer decay. And like many fortifications from the 19th-Century that had long since fallen out of use, it was faced with demolition for a parking lot. Thankfully the city realized that a restored fort would offer both a historical presence and tourism for the city. By 1956 a partially restored fort and the Halifax Army museum opened to the public. The site is now the most visited historical site in all of Atlantic Canada. Not to mention during the peak season it is manned by some of best staff I have ever seen and interacted with. The fort today is restored to what it would have been like during the mid 19th-century with men of the 78th Highlanders who were stationed at the post for three years along with men of the Royal Artillery. The fort continues the tradition of firing the noon gun as well as 21-gun salutes. It is certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in Halifax.

Written with Files from:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
web: www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/index.aspx
web: www.canadahistory.com/sections/places/forts/halifax_citadel.htm

Special Thanks to the men and women of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site for answering all my questions and providing additional information for this article.

Project:1812 – Fort Shelby, Fort McKay, and Fort Crawford

Project:1812 – Fort Shelby, Fort McKay, and Fort Crawford

The small fur trading post of Prairie du Chien was founded long before the British or Americans came to the old northwest. But rather the post was founded by the French in 1685 and soon became a small post along the Mississippi trade route. Even after the British gained the territory at the end of the French-Indian/Seven Years War in 1763 the population remained French, but the loyalties shifted to the British and remained there even after the Treaty of Paris ceded the territory to the newly formed United States of America.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
A reconstruction of one of the fort’s blockhouses

The first effort to fortify the town took place in 1814 when an expedition led by Governor William Clark (of Lewis & Clark Fame) established an American garrison in the small community. Governor Clark feared that the British may choose to enforce their influence in the community then march on St. Louis with nothing to stop them. While the community did nothing to resist the Americans they were not happy with the new garrison and alerted the nearest British outpost, Mackinac Island, of them. Clark’s fort; named after Isaac Shelby, governor of his native territory of Kentucky consisted of a warehouse annexed from the Mackinac Trading Company, two blockhouses and the northwest and southwest corners surrounded by a wooden palisade. The American garrison, under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Perkins of the 24th Regiment, was short lived in the fort. An expedition of militia and native troops dislodged the Americans after a three-day siege. The British were quick to rename the post after their commander, William McKay. For the rest of the War of 1812, the British remained watchful over Prarie du Chien from Fort McKay. The Americans would try, twice, to take the post back. Both efforts would fail far from the post. When word of peace reached the fort, and the terms of that peace the garrison was in shock. Everything was to return to how it was before the war. So the garrison followed the order to the letter and burned Fort McKay to the ground and marched out. The American army was quick to re-establish an outpost mirroring the original fort but this time naming it Fort Crawford in 1816. The garrison would serve the local population keeping the peace and enforcing trade regulations. It also served as the site for the signing of the Treaty of Prairie du Chien which would establish boundaries between tribal lands of the local natives. The fort was evacuated and abandoned in 1826 after the Mississippi River overflowed its banks. Two murders would see the army return to prevent the violence from turning into a full-blown conflict. And while it didn’t happen it was decided that the army would stay.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
Stone footings from the first Fort Crawford

The trouble was that due to the location of the old fort. The flood had done serious damage to the work. There was additional flood danger not to mention a cesspool where diseases would flourish among the garrison. But the garrison would have to remain there while a new fort was built to the south of the town on the mainland under the watchful eye of Colonel Zachary Taylor, future President of the United States and Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, future President of the Confederate States of America. The garrison at the old fort was in good hands, Dr. William Beaumont was in charge of keeping the men in good health and took the opportunity to conduct research on the human digestive system, the knowledge he gained formed the basis of our modern understanding of the system, much of his work was conducted at the old Fort Crawford. The old fort was finally abandoned in 1832 when the garrison moved into their new stone barracks. The site would sit empty for a decade or so before being purchased by Hercules Louis Dousman. Hercules was a business owner and son of Michael Dousman, the man who helped keep the population of Mackinac Island safe during the British capture in the opening action of the War of 1812. Hercules would begin to establish a family estate on the site in the mid-1840s. The site would be passed along to his son H. Louis Dousman and his widow after his death in 1868. Under the junior Dousman, an Italian Styled villa was constructed on the property and occupied by his mother until her death in 1882. The Dousman family would continue to occupy the home, known as Villa Louis until 1913. The villa was restored and turned into a museum in 1930s thanks largely to the efforts of Hercules’ granddaughters, Victoria Dousman Bigelow, and Violet Dousman Young. The site was taken over by the state’s historical society in 1950.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
Villa Louis as it stands today

The new Fort Crawford on the mainland would continue to watch over the area through the mid-19th century. The garrison would participate in the Black Hawk War and the titular Chief Black Hawk would surrender and become a prisoner of Fort Crawford. With the force relocation of the area tribes to Iowa, of which the garrison would again be a part. The need for the post decreased with the last troops marching out in 1856. When the American Civil War began the fort was used as a recruit depot and training station. It was also selected as a site for a US Army General Hospital. The Swift Hospital opened in 1864 and would serve close to 1500 Union troops during its single year of operation. With the hospital’s closure in 1865, the fort would never see military service again. The land was sold off in parcels, the buildings were either sold as homes or simply torn down for building materials. The Swift Hospital building was turned into a Roman Catholic private girls school. When the twentieth-century dawned all that was left was the ruins of the fort’s old hospital. The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution started a fundraising campaign to purchase the ruins and the three-and-a-half parcels of land it sat on, and in 1925 they had raised all the needed funds. The old hospital was restored and rebuilt and in 1960 opened as a museum dedicated to the efforts of Dr. Beaumont and the fort’s history.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
The second Fort Crawford’s hospital as it stands today as a museum

Today you can visit both sites. Historic Villa Louis features the 1868 Italian villa as well visitors can see a restored Blockhouse similar to the ones that once stood over Fort Shelby/McKay/Crawford as well as ruins and footings that were discovered during the restoration of the site. The Fort Crawford Museum was turned over to the City of Prairie du Chien in 1996 and has expanded to include all local history as well as the original exhibits about the fort and the work of Dr. Beaumont. The Swift Hospital building has long since been demolished in its place is a prison.

For more details on visiting these history sites, please check out their websites:
Fort Crawford Museum: www.fortcrawfordmuseum.com
Historic Villa Louis: villalouis.wisconsinhistory.org

Written with files from:
Ferguson, Gillum. Illinois in the War of 1812. Champaign, IL.: University of Illinois Press, 2012. Print.
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
Web: villalouis.wisconsinhistory.org/About/History.aspx
Web: www.fortcrawfordmuseum.com

Photos: Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Photographer’s Formulary Developer 23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – Fort Ontario

Project:1812 – Fort Ontario

Located in Oswego, New York, Fort Ontario, is one of three 18th and 19th century fortifications that were built to defend the Oswego River. Often confused and called Fort Oswego, Fort Ontario is located on the western bank of the Oswego River, while the actual Fort Oswego was located on the Eastern Bank, and stood approximately at West First and Lake Street in Oswego.

Project:1812 - Fort Ontario
The main gate of the fort

Originally constructed as “Fort Six Nations” in 1755 by the French during the French and Indian War (part of the greater Seven Years War), following the French capture of the region that saw the British forced from Fort Oswego. But the British soon returned, forcing the French from the town destroying the fortification. The British constructed a new fort over the ruins of the French, naming the new fortification Fort Ontario. The post was chosen as the site for negotiations to end the destructive Pontiac Rebellion and on the 25th of June 1766 a treaty was signed at the post. When the winds of Rebellion swept through the 13 American colonies, the British maintained their garrison at Fort Ontario, but when colonial troops approached the post in 1778 the British pulled out, and the colonials opted to destroy the post rather than occupy it. But it allowed the British to return and rebuild the fort in 1783. When the Jay Treaty was signed in 1796 they were forced to turn over many of their American forts over to the United States of America.

Project:1812 - Fort Ontario
The fort store house and two guard posts inside the gate

While the fort itself was not a strategic post, it was maintained by a small garrison as it provided a safe stop over for supply columns heading to Sacket’s Harbor. And it was for that exact reason that a mixed force of British Regulars, Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Provincial Troops launched a successful assault against Fort Ontario on the 6th of May 1814. While they failed to capture the main supply column, they had been warned by the post commander, the fort itself was captured and eventually destroyed by the British forces rather than occupied. Following the end of the War the Americans forgot about Fort Ontario, until increased smuggling between the US and the Province of Canada forced them to rebuild the post and occupy it. The post was expanded during the American Civil War, when the Trent Affair, brought the United States and Britain to war, the post was expanded into a larger star masonry fort, but when the issue was resolved through diplomacy the American Army continued to occupy the post through the rest of the 19th century.

Project:1812 - Fort Ontario
One of several buildings on site that acted as officer quarters and support buildings. As you can see the fort even today, continues to work on restoring and repairing the 19th century buildings.

The American Civil War saw the end of masonry fortifications, new weapons could easily smash the stone and brick walls, rather than disband the post, they constructed modern barracks outside of the fort’s walls, while the colonial fort slowly fell into ruin. When the last unit, 2nd Brigade, 1st US Infantry Division was stood down, the post itself closed as well in 1940, but with World War II in full swing in Europe and streams of Jewish refugees escaping from the Nazi Regime, the old post was used to house them from 1940 onto the end of the War. Following the war it was decided that the occupants would be given US Citizenship and in 1946 the post was closed for the last time.

Project:1812 - Fort Ontario
Inside the fort walls

The site was turned over to the State of New York in 1946 and they began restoring the old colonial fort and it opened to the public in 1953. Today the post remains a museum tracing the fort’s history and has been restored to what it looked like by 1872. Visitors can explore several buildings and even the rifle galleries inside the fort walls. In 2010 the site was threatened to be defunded by the State, but the town banded together to fill in the funding gap and allow the site to remain open.

Written with Files from:
Collins, Gilbert. Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812. Toronto: Dundurn, 2006. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Web: fortoswego.com
Web: nysparks.com/historic-sites/20/details.aspx

Photos: Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 400 (TMY-2)
Kodak TMax Developer (1+9) 20:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – Fort Detroit

Project:1812 – Fort Detroit

There’s nothing left of this fort which is a real shame, but if you consider where it was located, it really would make no sense to maintain a historic fort right in the middle of downtown Detroit, Michigan. But if you care to visit the former site, don’t let the name of the city scare you.

Project:1812 - Siege of Fort Detroit
Detroit as it stands today, shot from Windsor, Ontario

For the most part, Fort Detroit has been known over its short life by three names. And while there’s nothing left the fortification was site to the first major engagement during the War of 1812. Initially established to hold the area against the Continental army during the American Revolution, British Officer Captain Richard Lernoult of the 8th (King’s) Regiment of Foot established a fortification in 1779, which became known as Fort Lernoult, a simple wooden palisade and earthwork walls with support buildings inside surrounded by a dry ditch, by October the same year was home to a garrison of 381 troops. British forces continued to occupy the fort until 1796 when they were forced to turn it over to the American Army to comply with the terms of the Jay Treaty. On the 11th of July 1796 Colonel Jean François Hamtrack and 300 US Regulars took possession of the fort.

Project:1812 - Siege of Fort Detroit
While the fort is gone, you can still know where it once stood, the intersection of Fort and Shelby, clever Detroit.

When Detroit was incorporated in 1806, Secretary of War, General Henry Dearborn, ordered the Fort’s name be changed to Detroit to match the name of the town that it watched over. When William Hull was appointed as commander of the Michigan Territory he began the expand and improve Fort Detroit’s defenses in light of increased violence from native warriors in the Northwest. The fort served as the launch point for Hull’s short lived invasion and occupation of the western part of Upper Canada, however Detroit soon was the target of General Brock’s siege and was surrendered to the British in August of 1812. The British continued to operate a small garrison in the Fort until September 1813 when General Henry Procter ordered a general retreat from the area ahead of William Henry Harrison’s advance. American troops reoccupied the fort on the 29th of September, Harrison renaming the fortification Fort Shelby after the governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby in honour of the state providing so many volunteer militia units.

Project:1812 - Siege of Fort Detroit
A plaque marks where one of the fort’s redoubts once stood.

Fort Shelby continued to see occupation even with it falling into a general state of disrepair, and faced with the expanding city of Detroit turned the fort over to the city in 1826, and the fort itself demolished the following year. The Army instead constructed a new limestone and masonry fort further south, closer to the British fort at Amhurstburg (Fort Malden) naming the new fortification Fort Wayne and occupying it by 1851. Fort Wayne continued to see use until 1949. Today there’s nothing more than a historic plaque at Fort and Shelby Street in Detroit. Over 8,000 artifacts from Fort Shelby were recovered in 1961 during the construction of a bank and are now housed in the Wayne University Museum. Fort Wayne was turned over the city of Detroit and was restored and is now open as a living museum.

Written with Files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers
Web: www.historicfortwaynecoalition.com
Web: www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng/Topic/14

Photos: Nikon F4 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D – Agfa APX 25 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 6:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – Fort Mackinac

Project:1812 – Fort Mackinac

If you approach Fort Mackinac from the harbor side of the fort after landing on the island, you’ll see exactly why the British built the fort there, set high on the cliffs overlooking the straights of Mackinac, this fort is one of the best preserved forts for its age, as everything is original. But when the property has remained in government hands since it’s construction, such a feat is possible. The fort and the island is well worth a visit.

Project:1812 - Fort Mackinac
The rear gate to the fort, this is part of the original British construction.

Built in 1780 on an island just off the mainland, Fort Mackinac (pronounced Mack-ah-naw) was constructed to replace an older French fort, Fort Michilimackinac, a wooden palisade fort which had been built as a fur trade post in 1715. During the French-Indian War the fort had been captured by the British. However seeing that it was not in a strategic spot they began construction of a larger masonry fort out in the straights which was much easier to defend, and serve as a headquarters for British operations in both the Northern parts of what would become Michigan, and Upper Canada. Built above the 150 foot tall cliffs, the walled fort was constructed out of local limestone under the direction of the British Governor Patrick Sinclair. The fort remained a symbol of British authority in the area, and remained in British control during the American Revolution, it was only after the signing of the Jay treaty in 1796 that the Americans were given the fort under the terms of that treaty.

Project:1812 - Fort Mackinac
Fort operations buildings such as the commisary were built by the US Army following the War of 1812

The Americans only maintained a small garrison at the fort, troops and supplies were hard to get to the area, and being such an isolated post communication with the next nearest American post, Fort Detroit was spotty, and there was long periods of silence. It was this silence that their British counter parts were hoping for. By the year 1812 the Mackinac had a small garrison of only sixty men and a handful of officers. The surrounding island was occupied by a small population of civilians. On July 17th, 1812 the war came to the island when Captain Roberts from Fort St. Joseph landed a large force on the island intent of taking the fort back for the British. Lieutenant Porter, commander of the garrison had not yet been informed that war existed between the Empire and the United States surrendered without a fight. The garrison was quickly paroled and allowed to leave, along with any of the population who did not swear an oath of allegiance to the British crown or did not wish to. The fort later was able to capture two American ships, they were unaware of the fort’s capture, and the British raising the stars and stripes over the Fort lured the two ships in where they were promptly captured joining the Lake Erie squadron as the HMS Chippeway and HMS Little Belt. When the war turned to the American’s favour in 1813, Captain Robert McDoull along with a detachment of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of foot established a new northern route to supply the northern outpost. Upon arrival at the fort he quickly ordered the construction of a second fortification at the island’s highest point. The new Fort George was a heavily armed palisade wall fort and blockhouse to better defend the island against a possible attempt at taking the fort back. The new fortifications proved their value in July of 1814 when the island was assaulted by an American force but was repulsed. The island remained in British hands until 1815 when it was again returned to the Americans at the end of the war.

Project:1812 - Fort Mackinac
An original blockhouse

The strategic value of the fort declined after the War of 1812 as in the north there weren’t as many clashes as with the more southern borders with the Canadas. As relations improved the fort was used as a holding garrison, the result was that at many times the fort was nearly unmanned, as troops flowed in and out. However the post maintained a small permanent staff of an officer or NCO, a doctor and other administrative staff. The island continued to be a hub for the fur trade in the area. It was in 1822 that the post’s doctor, Doctor William Beaumont, treated an fur trader with a serious stomach injury. The injury was repaired and the fur trader lived. However he was left with a hole, allowing Doctor Beaumont to study how the human digestive system work, he would later publish his findings in his well-known book, Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion.

Project:1812 - Fort Mackinac
Looking down into the parade square

The fort also served as a marshaling area for expeditions into the northern parts of the United States and as a prison for three Confederate allies during the Civil War. By 1875 Fort Mackinac was no longer needed as a military post, congress declared most of the island including the two forts a National Park, second in the United States (the first was Yellowstone). The soldiers stationed there became park rangers along with their regular military duties. The northern station soon became highly desired, the fort expanded to include a bath, flush toilets, and a canteen with good food and alcohol along with other items the soldiers could purchase. All the comforts of home even with the strict discipline of the military life. The Boy Scouts also volunteered on the island (a tradition that continues today along with Girl Scouts). The fort was transferred to the State of Michigan in 1895 as its first state park, the American Army abandoning the fort at the same time. Today visitors can take a ferry across from Mackinac City or St. Ignace to visit the historic downtown and the two forts, the main fort restored and staffed as it would have been in the 1880s. The island is also a car free zone so you have to move around on bicycles, feet, or horse drawn carriages.

Project:1812 - Fort Mackinac
A costumed interpreter dressed as an American soldier from the 1880s

Written with files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers
Web: www.mackinacparks.com/history/index.aspx?l=0,1,4,32,39

Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak TMax 100 (100TMX)
Kodak Xtol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – Fort St. Joseph

Project:1812 – Fort St. Joseph

I never realized exactly how isolated Fort St. Joseph is, even from the main highway you’re still looking at around 30-45 minutes drive down to the south western corner of St. Joseph Island. And to make things all the better it was pouring rain the day I visited these distant ruins, at least the wonderful staff at the site were welcoming and very friendly, and probably happy that they even saw one other person. It’s no wonder that the 10th Royal Vets that were stationed here in the early 19th century turned to drink.

Project:1812 - Fort St. Joseph
The path from the visitors centre to the ruins of the fort

When the British were forced out of Fort Mackinac in the late 18th century to comply with the terms of the Jay Treaty they quickly established a new outpost in the remote north of Upper Canada on St. Joseph Island, the outpost was needed to maintain control of the fur trade and maintain good relations with the natives in the area. Construction on Fort St. Joseph on St. Joseph Island began in 1798 and by 1803 a small outpost had been setup. The sudden arrival of engineers, soldiers and workers perturbed the local population of natives, but the British treated them kindly, and openly traded with them. Being the most remote outpost in Upper Canada supplies and manpower were slow to arrive. By 1807 the fort had a garrison of 39 men from the 10th Royal Veteran Battalion (RVB) under the command of Captain Roberts. The fort itself consisted of a palisade wall, a stone magazine, and several buildings that served as barracks, storehouses, a kitchen, and offices for the British Indian Department. The fort however remained out manned and out gunned if any force attempted to lay claim to the fort.

Project:1812 - Fort St. Joseph
Some more ruins

Relations between the British Empire and the United States came to a head in the summer of 1812 with the declaration of war. General Brock quickly realized that the small outpost of Fort St. Joseph was suddenly a strategic step off point and quickly sent a message to Captain Roberts. Roberts was ordered to take his whole garrison and any local ally and native warrior and take back Fort Mackinac. The tiny fort was thrust into a major action of the war to ensure British control of the north. On July 17th Captain Roberts, the 39 men of the 10th RVB, 400 Voyageurs, and Native Warriors set sail and quickly took Fort Mackinac, the equally small American garrison there unaware that a state of war even existed, exactly how Brock had hoped. The very first action of the war had been launched from the smallest British Fort in the area.

Project:1812 - Fort St. Joseph
The remains of the fort’s powder magazine.

With the British again occupying in force Fort Mackinac, Fort St. Joseph continued to serve as a trading post for the Northwest Company and offices for the British Indian Department while military operations continued out of the larger Fort Mackinac. After the British defeat at the Fort of Lake Erie and the Battle of the Thames in 1813 the St. Joseph was abandoned completely. In 1814 an American force under George Croghan in an attempt to take Fort Mackinac back arrived first at Fort St. Joseph finding it abandoned set fire to the fort leaving it in ruins. They did not touch the Northwest Company warehouse or the native settlement nearby. Moving on to St. Mary (modern day Sault Ste. Marie), but failed to take Mackinac back from the British.

Project:1812 - Fort St. Joseph
The bakehouse ruins

After the war England was again forced to turn Fort Mackinac back over to the Americans, but returning to St. Joseph finding it burned save the powder magazine, opted instead to operate a small outpost on Drummond Island for a short time before moving all military and trade operations to Penetanguishene. Fort St. Joseph was lost to time and slowly nature took over St. Joseph Island. The fort remained lost until 1920 when members of the Sault Ste. Marie historical society uncovered the fort’s ruins, by the late 1940s an access road and picnic area had been constructed to allow anyone to come and view the ruins. Being largely unoccupied and undisturbed like all the forts in Southern Ontario that had urban centers grow up around them, Fort St. Joseph had lain undisturbed since its destruction in 1814 offered an undisturbed dig site for teams from the University of Toronto in 1963 and 1964 which revealed many glimpses into the life of soldiers in the remote outpost in the early 19th century. Parks Canada took over the stewardship of the site in 1974 and built a visitor center and parking. The ruins are open to the general public, trains allow you to view the ruins and take in the natural beauty of northern Ontario.

Project:1812 - Fort St. Joseph
An old historic sites plaque mounted on the ruins marking the fort and Captain Roberts attack on Mackinac Island

Written with files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers
Web: www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/on/stjoseph/index.aspx
Web: algoma1812.com/History/Fort.aspx

Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 (400TX)
Kodak Xtol (1+1) 9:00 @ 20C

52:320TXP – Week 25 – The Red Coat

52:320TXP – Week 25 – The Red Coat

52:320TXP - Week 25 - The Red Coat

From 1645 to 1885 the red coat of the British Army was both feared and respected, this army of as General Sir Arthur Wellesley the Duke of Wellington put it, the scum of the Earth, drilled and disciplined into one of the most effective fighting forces the world had seen, and helped Britain build an empire that spanned the globe. Week 25 is for my friend Col. Anne whom I met through tumblr and our mutual interest in Military history. Specifically the late 18th to early 19th century. The gentleman portrayed here is dressed in the uniform of the 8th (King’s) Regiment of Foot as they would’ve been dressed during their time garrisoning Fort Michilimackinac. This fort, originally built as a fur trading outpost by the French in 1715 was ceded during the Seven Years War (French and Indian War) in 1761. The fort only saw action once, during Pontiac’s Rebellion, native forces overran the outpost, killing or driving off the British garrison. After occupying it for a year, the British regained the post after promising better gifts to the local natives. The British moved their outpost over to Mackinac Island in 1781, being a more defensible location should American Rebels decide to attack. The fort was dismantled. Today the fort is part of Colonial Michilimackinac, and many of the buildings have been rebuilt and archaeological work continues to turn up a greater understanding of life at this distant outpost. I’m glad I was able to make it back here during the Photostock 2014 event as it is one of the few forts in the US that maintains a British garrison!

Modified Anniversary Speed Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak Tri-X Pan (320TXP)
Meter: Sektonic L-358
1/125″ – f/13 – ASA-200
Kodak Xtol (1+1) 12:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – The Siege of Fort Meigs

Project:1812 – The Siege of Fort Meigs

The Siege of Fort Meigs was a mess, a minor action at a depot fort that did little but injury the personal morale of a British officer and drive a wedge in the strained alliance between Tecumseh and the British. It was the opening move in the long game of William Henry Harrison and his designs for the invasion of Upper Canada. A muddy mess that did little to further the British plans but was exactly what Harrison had hoped in the end. A small, tactical victory.

Project:1812 - Fort Meigs
One of seven blockhouses that served as defensive strong points and secure artillery batteries for the palasade wall of Fort Meigs.
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Tri-X Pan – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:30 @ 20C

The first year of the war had not gone well for the Americans. With the entire plan for a swift victory gone, a new plan was needed. The Battle of Frenchtown resulted in an American defeat, and the British retained their hold on Michigan, but for William Henry Harrison it was simply a minor setback. Rather than risk a confrontation with the British he slowly built up his forces and began to gather his army at the largest of his network of forts, Fort Meigs, located in what is today Perrysburg, Ohio, just south of Toledo. At Fort Detroit, the Shawnee war chief, Tecumseh was not pleased with the cautious nature of the British commander, General Henry Procter. Procter had not done enough, even though he had projected his forces south holding the Americans at bay. Harrison was not moving against him. But for Tecumseh it was a matter of revenge, the two men had been at each other’s throat since the first years of the 19th-Century, and now the two enemies were close enough to meet in battle. Resigned to this native warrior, Procter moved south. While the Americans waited off the Scarborough Bluffs, waiting for their time to jump the small town of York. Procter marched south with a force of British Regulars from the 41st Regiment and Royal Artillery, Provincial Troops from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, close to 500 Militia troops, but it was the Native Confederacy that made a bulk of Procter’s army with over 1,000 warriors.

Project:1812 - The Siege of Fort Meigs
The ruins of Fort Miamis, a British Fort from 1794, that served as the British camp during the seige.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 – Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 6:30 @ 20C

The spring rains were not kind to the whole operation, but undaunted by weather, the British siege lines opened fire on the American fort on 1 May 1813. Procter had not skimped on artillery bringing two 24-Pound cannons taken from Fort Detroit, several heavy mortars plus smaller artillery pieces arranged in two batteries, one on the North side of the fort separated by the Miami River and a second to the south of the fort. Two guns boats stationed on the Miami River provided additional support. The design of Fort Meigs made it clear that artillery fire would do little to breach the fort’s walls. Unlike an earthwork or masonry fort, Meigs was surrounded by a simple wooden palisade wall with seven blockhouses arranged around it. Two exterior artillery batteries provided firepower towards the northern side of the fort. Harrison upon seeing the British bombardment ordered twelve-foot high earth structures constructed along the interior to provide protection to the massive camp of tents.

Project:52 - Week 22
Reenactors protraying the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot sit on reconstructed and much shorter earth traverses.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford HP5+ – Processing By: Silvano’s

The two sides continued to trade ineffective artillery fire with each other for several days, Procter’s seemingly unlimited supply of artillery ammunition would simply sink into the damp earthen traverses. The British siege did have one effect on the fort, it stopped any convoys from reaching the fort, Harrison would be faced with a finite supply of ammunition for his artillery. Harrison ordered that a bounty is issued for any British fired cannonball that could still be used. Any soldier that brought in a cannon ball would receive an extra ration of whiskey. So the Americans began to fire the British shell back at them. Harrison knew he couldn’t hold up for long without breaking through at least one of the British lines, but any sortie sent from the fort would reduce his overall strength and invite Procter to launch his assault on the fort. But there was a glimmer of hope from the south, reinforcements from Kentucky, led by General Green Clay.

Project:1812 - The Siege of Fort Meigs
The remains of the British Artillery battery to the south of Fort Meigs can still be found in a cemetary just down the road from the Fort.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 – Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 6:30 @ 20C

General Clay was pleased to have arrived when he did and gladly accepted the runner that had been sent by General Harrison. Splitting his force of 1,200 Kentuck Militia into three groups, he ordered one to attack the northern battery while the second attacked in the south. The third group continued onto the fort. The initial attacks against both batteries saw success. Each was guarded by a token force of Militia, natives, and Royal Artillery Gunners. The Kentucky Militia would make quick work of these sending the running into the woods. The quick victory saw the men at the north battery get sloppy. Using only their ramrods to spike the British guns, they wanted to pursue the native troops to exact revenge for the dead Kentuckians from the Battle of Frenchtown. A mistake many would not live to repeat. These woods were home to many of the natives that had come with Procter’s army. Those who were not killed outright were taken prisoner and brought back to Fort Miamis. The troops to the south again set off in pursuit of the native troops, only to meet with a company of troops from the 41st Regiment of Foot that had come to reinforce the southern battery after hearing of the attack. Only 150 men made it back to the Fort.

Project:1812 - The Siege of Fort Meigs
Reenactor portraying the Kentucky Militia. While some militia units had uniforms, many simply wore their civilian clothes.
Nikon F4 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G VR – Ilford FP4+ – Processing By Silvano’s

With their batteries quickly returned to action the status quo on the siege lines was returned, but to those taken prisoners the fight was far from over. The animosity between white American settlers and the Native tribes ran deep, and like the violence that followed the Battle of Frenchtown, the headstrong warriors were not about to honour the rules of war. Their anger against the Kentucky men was unstoppable, the officers from the British Indian Department could barely hold the natives in check. Even Tecumseh who was more peacemaker than warrior wept openly at the violence being committed. Turning to Procter, he asked for the British general to intervene and stop this horror. Procter was not Brock and never saw eye-to-eye with Tecumseh, refused to interfere. This put Tecumseh in a rage; the Shawnee Chief declared Procter was no longer fit for command and that he should put on women’s clothing and go home.

Project:1812 - The Siege of Fort Meigs
A monument to the brave men of Kentucky who died during the seige of Fort Meigs located on the fort grounds.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 – Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 6:30 @ 20C

By 9 May, the two sides had bombarded the other into a stalemate, with spirits and ammunition running low, Procter sent a representative under a flag of truce to the Fort, offering a prisoner exchange with the intention of breaking the siege. The Americans agreed. Procter would return to Detroit with his tail between his legs. He would again be forced into action twice later in 1813 against William Henry Harrison against Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson; both would further drive the British General into the depths of depression and end with his defeat and dishonourable actions at the Battle of the Thames.

Project:1812 - The Siege of Fort Meigs
A Memorial to the Siege can be found inside the walls of the fort today, errected by veterins of the American Civil War.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 – Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 6:30 @ 20C

By the end of the war, Fort Meigs had been reduced to a small depot fort, with only a single blockhouse remaining surrounded by a square palisade. It would burn down shortly after peace was declared. The land would fall into private ownership, but the family realized the historical significance of the space only used it for pasture. And when the last of the family passed away in 1951 the whole area was donated to the state. Since then the site has been operated as a historic site, a 1951 reconstruction of Fort Meigs as it would have stood during the 1813 siege still stands along with a memorial erected by veterans of the American Civil War. Several other buildings and memorials exist within and without the walls. The remains of the British siege batteries can still be seen, in the south, they are a part of a cemetery, in the north, they lay on private property. The remains of Fort Miamis can also be found still today.

Written with files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers
Lossing, Benson John. The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812. Gretna, LA: Pelican Pub., 2003. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2006. Print.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1989. Print.
Berton, Pierre. Flames across the Border, 1813-1814. Markham, Ont.: Penguin, 1988. Print.
Web: www.galafilm.com/1812/e/events/ftmeigs.html
Web: war1812.tripod.com/batmeigs.html