Brock At Detroit
C.W. Jefferys' notes about this picture from Canada's Past in Pictures
Brock acted quickly on his arrival at the frontier. He learned from captured letters that Detroit was crowded with women and children who had fled there from the surrounding country for protection from the Indians, that Hull readed an Indian massacre, and was discouraged by the difficulty of getting supplies and reinforcements, and that his officers were dissatisfied with his leadership. The British pushed forward to Sandwich, opposite Detroit, and prepared to bombard the American fort across the river. Brock sent a summons to Hull, demanding his surrender. Hull refused, and the guns opened fire. Not much damage was done, but the bombardment spread panic among the refugees, and increased Hull's distress.
That night six hundred Indians under Tecumseh paddled across the river in the darkness, and surrounded the fort. Brock, with three hundred of the 41st Regiment of the British Army and four hundred - militiamen clothed in cast-off uniforms of the regulars prepared to follow. At dawn on the quiet Sunday morning of August 16th they embarked in boats and canoes, while five small cannon were put on board scows and the whole force pushed out into the river. The battery at Sandwich began firing, the Queen Charlotte, an armed vessel, came up and joined in the bombardment, and while the shot flew overhead in the still morning air, the boats crowded with redcoats and blue-shirted sailors, pulled rapidly across to Springwells, four miles below Detroit. Brock was among the first on shore, and directed the landing of the men.
He was met by serious news. A body of men that had left the fort some days before to bring in supplies was returning, and had been seen that morning by the Indian scouts three miles away. Brock was in danger of being caught between the two forces. His decision was prompt. He resolved to put on a bold front, and attack the fort at once.
The road to Detroit was bordered with orchards and vineyards and comfortable hornesteads, deserted now by their panic-stricken inhabitants. The Indians moved through the woods and orchards on the left, while the troops, led by Brock, marched up the road, until within a short distance of the fort. Here they were drawn up under the shelter of a slope, while Brock rode forward to examine the ground. Six cannon faced their approach by the road, and the American troops lined the ramparts and the orchards and fields around the palisades. An attack by the small British force would be a difficult and perilous task; but Brock's boldness daunted Hull. Fear of the Indians, and the entreaties of the terrified refugees doubtless had their effect on the mind of the American commander. As the British prepared to attack, an officer bearing a white flag came out from the fort. Hull was ready to surrender.
The terms were soon arranged, and at noon the fort was given up. The Americans marched out and piled their arms, the British marched in, and the Union Jack was run up on the flagstaff. Two thousand five hundred soldiers were made prisoners, thirty-seven guns and large quantities of ammunition and muskets, sorely needed by the Canadian militia, were captured, and an armed vessel and the whole territory of Michigan was included in the surrender.
Hull's action was denounced by his own officers, who had not been consulted, and who were eager to fight. In the United States the news of the ignominious failure of the invasion was received with astonishment and dismay, while throughout Canada spread joy and confidence in their leader and in the country's power of resistance.
The picture shows Brock watching the landing of the troops on the Detroit shore. He holds a field-glass in his hand. Behind him stands his aide-de-camp, Col. Macdonnell. Their long shadows indicate the rising sun, whose light touches the edges of the trees in the background. The river is covered with the approaching boats, and in the distance is seen the American fort returning the fire of the Sandwich batteries.