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War of 1812 timeline: July 1812 to 28 September 1812

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July 1812 - September 1812

July 1812

Arrival of British reinforcements to Quebec City, Lower Canada: 103rd Regiment, Royal Artillery Drivers.

 

Major-General Francis de Rottenburg is made commander of the Lower Canada frontier near Montreal.

 

New Brunswick authorities negotiate agreements of neutrality with the Peskotomuhkat (Passamaquoddy) and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) First Nations.

 

The militia of Prescott, Upper Canada erect, on their own initiative, a wooden palisade to protect a barrack and storehouse, and a battery on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

 

A detachment of militia in boats from Prescott, Upper Canada captures part of a small fleet of American merchant vessels sailing from Ogdensburg, New York to Sackets Harbor, New York.

1 July 1812            

Riot at Lachine, Lower Canada.  Civil unrest erupts as armed protesters take to the streets to oppose the actions of military officials.

Militia duty was highly unpopular among portions of Lower Canadian society who felt it their duty to protect their families and communities before their nation. Tensions erupted shortly after war was declared when a habitant was detained for deserting his militia unit.  A group of sympathizers thwarted the arrest and the next day roughly 400 men gathered at Lachine, half of whom were armed.  Fearful of civil unrest, authorities acted quickly sending troops and two field cannons from Montreal first firing over then into the unruly crowd killing one man.  The rioters were most likely protesting what they considered the illegitimate adoption of the Militia Act as opposed to the war itself since French-Canadians would later play an important part in the defence of the colony.

2 July 1812           

Lieutenant Charles Rolette of the Provincial Marine captures the American vessel Cuyahoga as it enters the Detroit River at Amherstburg, Upper Canada.

On 1 July, after a gruelling march from Dayton, Ohio, Brigadier General William Hull's Army of the North West reached Lake Erie unaware that war had been declared on 18 June. Here, Hull hired the schooner Cuyahoga Packet to carry the baggage, bandsmen and sick up river with the rest of the army proceeding overland to Detroit. The following day, as the vessel sailed past Amherstburg's navy yard, a long boat of Provincial Marine sailors under Lieutenant Charles Frédéric Rolette rowed out and demanded the schooner's surrender. The Canadians, who knew that war had commenced, reaped from Hull's official and personal papers a treasure trove of intelligence on the size of the American army and its invasion plan for south western Upper Canada. 

 

British strengthen defences along the Niagara River.

On 2 July, American sentries reported that British soldiers and Canadian militia had built a strong artillery battery behind stone ramparts at Queenston Heights, Upper Canada and that they had cleared the trees from the ridge.  This "Redan Battery" was part of a system of artillery strong points, guard posts, hutted camps, bonfires and signal flag poles, that lined the river from between Lakes Erie and Ontario.  A watch station was built inland at Pelham Heights, from which vessels sailing on both lakes could be spotted, and warnings of invasion sent.  The Redan Battery played a pivotal role in the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812.  Major-General Isaac Brock and his aide-de-camp Lieutenant-Colonel John Macdonell, both died in the struggle for this key position. 

3 July 1812            

Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor Sir John Coape Sherbrooke issues a proclamation ordering Nova Scotians not to harass the inhabitants of the District of Maine or to interfere with their trading activities.

4 July 1812

The first American prisoners of war are received at Melville Island Prison, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Located in Halifax's Northwest Arm, Melville Island had been used as a prison by the British since at least 1803, initially for the incarceration of (mostly) French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars. On 4 July 1812, the first American prisoners began to arrive. These and the approximately 8,000 others who were incarcerated during the war were primarily crew members from captured privateers, with lesser numbers from naval and merchant vessels. The prison complex variously included the prison itself, a soldiers' barracks, an officers' house, and a hospital. A bridge connected it to the mainland. Most of the prisoners who died there were buried on nearby Deadman's Island. Little remains of the original prison complex, although a monument on Deadman's Island commemorates the Americans buried there.

5 July 1812

American batteries in Detroit, Michigan Territory bombard Sandwich (Windsor), Upper Canada in preparation for Brigadier General William Hull's invasion.

9 July 1812 

News of the declaration of war reaches St. John's, Newfoundland.

10 July 1812

New Brunswick's acting Lieutenant Governor, Major-General George Stracey Smyth, issues a proclamation prohibiting New Brunswickers from harassing American fishing and trading vessels in the Bay of Fundy, so long as they are on peaceful business.

11 July 1812

The privateer Rossie departs from Baltimore, Maryland and over the course of the next six weeks she captures 18 vessels off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

12 July 1812

Brigadier General William Hull's American army invades Upper Canada at Sandwich (Windsor). 

Ordered to capture the British post at Amherstburg , Brigadier General William Hull left Detroit, Michigan Territory and crossed the Detroit River into Sandwich with his Army of the North West composed of three regiments of Ohio militiamen and regulars of the Fourth Regiment of the U.S. Infantry.  The British, Canadian, and First Nations defenders, outnumbered by Hull's army, put up little resistance.  Hull, confident that Upper Canada's inhabitants would embrace the U.S. army as liberators, issued a proclamation offering destruction to individuals who resisted and protection to those who were loyal to the American cause.

16 July 1812          

Skirmish at the River Canard, Upper Canada.

After the capture of Sandwich on 12 July, Brigadier General William Hull sent a force under Colonel Lewis Cass to scout for the enemy. On 16 July at the River Canard, the last major natural obstacle before Amherstburg , he encountered the British outposts. In a brisk action Cass outflanked the allied troops and forced open the route to Amherstburg, the main British base in the area. Hull, fearing that Cass was too far from the main force to be easily supported, ordered a withdrawal back to Sandwich.  While only a minor encounter the action at the Canard saw the war's first British Army land casualties in Upper Canada when Private Hancock of the 41st Regiment was killed and his comrade Private Dean was wounded and captured. 

 

Newfoundland Governor Sir John Thomas Duckworth arrives in St. John's and quickly orders an upgrading of the town's defences and a reorganization of the militia.

 

British naval squadron consisting of HMS Shannon, Africa, Belvidera, Guerriere and Aeolus capture USS Nautilus off the New Jersey coast. Nautilus is the first United States Navy vessel captured by the British during the war.

17 July 1812

An allied force from Fort St. Joseph, Upper Canada, compels the American surrender of Fort Mackinac, Michigan Territory.

Fort Mackinac was an important fur trading post and its control would foster Métis and First Nations relations.  At nearby British Fort St. Joseph, secret dispatches from Major-General Isaac Brock reached Captain Charles Roberts via fur trader William McKay who voyaged from Montreal in only eight days.  Brock urged Roberts to use discretion with regard to the Americans at Mackinac and make use of his First Nations alliances and the North West Company.  Taking the initiative, Roberts organized a force of predominately Indigenous fighters, Métis, fur traders along with 40 British regulars to attack the Americans at Fort Mackinac who were not yet aware of war's declaration.  Caught defenceless, American commander Lieutenant Porter Hanks capitulated.  This bloodless victory influenced many First Peoples to actively support Britain.

18 July 1812          

USS Constitution escapes a British naval squadron consisting of HMS Shannon, Africa, Belvidera, Guerriere and Aeolus, near New York City.

19 July 1812

Bombardment of Sackets Harbor, New York. Provincial Marine vessels bombard the American naval yard on Lake Ontario with little effect.

 

American troops skirmish near the River Canard, Upper Canada with First Nations, Canadian militia, British regulars, and the Provincial Marine vessel Queen Charlotte moored in the Detroit River.

25 July 1812         

American troops and First Nations skirmish near the River Canard, Upper Canada.

31 July 1812

En route to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from England, the Royal Bounty is captured off Newfoundland by an American privateer, and its passengers and crew are robbed and put ashore.

 

The Provincial Marine brig Earl of Moira and schooner Duke of Gloucester fend off an attack by American schooner Julia and a gunboat on the St. Lawrence River near Elizabethtown (Brockville), Upper Canada.

August 1812 

Runchey's Corps is formed, Upper Canada.

At the outset of the War of 1812, Richard Pierpoint, or Pierpont, an African veteran of the Loyalist Butler's Rangers and former slave, offered to raise an all-African military force in the Niagara region.  Eventually "Captain Robert Runchey's Company of Coloured Men," was created.   Commanded by white officers, the non commissioned officers and enlisted men were African.  Over 60 years old, Pierpoint served as a private.  The unit fought at Queenston Heights and the Battle of Fort George and, unlike most militia units, it remained with the British Army following the subsequent retreat to Burlington Heights.  This small unit of roughly 30 men served until the end of the war, and constructed defences at Burlington Heights and Fort Mississauga.  They were disbanded in March, 1815. 

 

Arrival of British reinforcements to Quebec City, Lower Canada: 1st Battalion of the 1st Regiment.

August & September 1812

The Saint John River Flotilla, consisting of 15 armed bateaux and two gunboats, is constructed and stationed at Fredericton, New Brunswick to defend the river from an American advance through the District of Maine.   

1 August 1812

In an effort to help finance the war, the Legislative Council of Lower Canada receives royal assent for legislation promoting the circulation of a special paper currency known as Army Bills.

Before 1812, British North America's colonial government imported coin from the U.S.  The war not only cut off this source but money was also required to finance military expenditures.  With its supply of cash removed, Lower Canada's Legislature adopted an act issuing £250,000 in paper currency to be supplied by the newly created Army Bill Office at Quebec City.  The government fully guaranteed the bills and issued a number of denominations, the higher bills earning interest.  In 1813 this currency became legal tender in Upper Canada and because they were well received an upper limit of £1.5 million was issued in 1814.  American forgeries were sometimes introduced to discredit the notes.  The Army Bills were slowly withdrawn once war ended.

5 August 1812     

Battle of Brownstown, Michigan Territory. Shawnee Chief Tecumseh leads an attack on a force from Brigadier General William Hull's army sent to meet a supply column from Ohio. Hull's troops are repulsed and return to Detroit without the supplies.

8 August 1812

Brigadier General William Hull withdraws the bulk of his force from Upper Canada to Detroit, Michigan Territory.

8 August - 4 September 1812

 

Governor General of British North America Sir George Prevost and American Major General Henry Dearborn negotiate a cease-fire.

Word of the British government's conditional repeal of the orders-in-council, and attempts to open negotiations with the Americans, reached Governor General Sir George Prevost in Quebec City, Lower Canada on 1 August 1812. Prevost, who was pursuing a defensive strategy, immediately offered an armistice to Major General Henry Dearborn, senior officer of the Northern Department. The American general did not have the political authority to sign an armistice but did offer a limited cease-fire.  The agreement prohibited offensive actions but allowed both sides to reinforce their frontiers. Notice of the cease-fire, however, came too late to stop the British capture of Detroit, Michigan Territory. Later in August President James Madison rejected the British peace overtures as inadequate and ordered Dearborn to resume offensive operations.

9 August  1812

Battle of Maguaga, Michigan Territory.  Troops from Brigadier General William Hull's army at Detroit attack British troops, Upper Canadian militia and First Nations allies blocking the American supply line to Ohio. Hull's soldiers defeat the allied forces, but the Americans return to Detroit without fresh supplies.

 

HMS Bream captures an American privateer off Shelburne, Nova Scotia, wounding two of the privateer's crew of 35.

13 August 1812

Major-General Isaac Brock, with reinforcements of British Regulars and Upper Canadian militia, arrives in Amherstburg, Upper Canada, after travelling across Lake Erie from Long Point, Upper Canada.  First Nations allies led by John Norton and additional Upper Canada militia march to Amherstburg.

 

USS Essex captures HMS Alert west of the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. 

15 August 1812

British regulars, Canadian militia and First Nations allies concentrate before Detroit, Michigan Territory and Major-General Isaac Brock summons Brigadier General William Hull to surrender.  The British bombard Detroit that evening. 

 

After withdrawing from Fort Dearborn, Illinois Territory, the American garrison is ambushed by a force of Nishnabek (Potawatomi). The entire garrison is killed or captured.

16 August 1812

American Brigadier General William Hull surrenders Detroit and Michigan Territory to forces led by Major-General Isaac Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.

With his supply line to Frenchtown cut by actions at Brownstown and Maguaga in early August, Brigadier General William Hull's Detroit River campaign came to an end when Major-General Isaac Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh arrived at Detroit with a contingent of British regulars and Upper Canada militia from Essex, Oxford, Kent, Lincoln, Norfolk, and York Counties.  When Hull refused to surrender, allied forces consisting of 300 regulars, 400 militia and approximately 600 fighters from several First Nations, including Wyandot, Anishnabe (Ojibwa), and Nishnabek (Potawatomi), crossed the river on Provincial Marine vessels to lay siege to Detroit.  An apprehensive Hull lost his nerve and surrendered the entire garrison of over 2,000 regulars and militia.  The victory secured Britain's position in Michigan Territory until mid-1813.

17 August 1812

Arrival of British reinforcements to Quebec City, Lower Canada: 8th Regiment.

19 August 1812

HMS Guerrière surrenders to USS Constitution.

At the start of the war, most of the Royal Navy's ships were deployed in Europe for use against France. Moreover, the frigate USS Constitution was faster and better armed than any British frigate then in North American waters. Under Captain Isaac Hull, Constitution left Boston on 2 August 1812 to cruise off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. On the nineteenth she found HMS Guerrière some 1,000 kilometres southwest of Cape Race. Its captain, James Dacres, was spoiling for battle, but his ship was badly beaten in the ensuing action. Because so many of Guerrière's shots bounced harmlessly off Constitution's hull, her crew nicknamed her "Old Ironsides." Coming so soon after failure at Detroit, the action was an important moral victory for the Americans.

20 August 1812

Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor Sir John Coape Sherbrooke issues a letter of marque to the owners of the Liverpool Packet.

The Liverpool Packet was the most feared of all British North American privateers, armed vessels whose owners were authorized to wage war against the enemy. Originally a slave ship, she was captured by HMS Tartarus in 1811 and purchased in Halifax by Enos Collins and friends, who sent her privateering soon after war began. On 11 June 1813 she was taken by the privateer Thomas of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and operated as an American privateer until recaptured by HMS Fantome off the Maine coast on 5 October 1813. Reacquired by the Collins group, she sailed again as the Liverpool Packet. She made a fortune for her owners, including Collins, who was said to be the richest man in Canada when he died in 1871.

25 August 1812

Raising of the Compagnie des Guides, a Lower Canada cavalry militia unit.

26 August 1812

United States Secretary of the Navy, Paul Hamilton, appoints John Mitchell of Philadelphia as American representative in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the purpose of overseeing the exchange of prisoners of war.

31 August 1812

Commodore Isaac Chauncey receives orders to take command of the American naval establishments on Lakes Ontario and Erie.

September 1812

The British decide to establish a naval yard at Ile aux Noix, Lower Canada.

In September 1812 the British decided to establish a naval yard to compete with the American marine establishment on Lake Champlain whose warships easily dominated the few British gunboats on the Richelieu-Lake Champlain front.  Ile aux Noix was chosen because of its strategic location commanding navigation of the Richelieu River, the most accessible fluvial entry into Lower Canada.  In order to prevent American attacks, fortifications were repaired. Construction at the yard reached its zenith in 1814 when HMS Confiance was launched.  Ile aux Noix's shipyard became to Lower Canada what Kingston and Amherstburg were to Upper Canada.

 

The fortifications of Ile aux Noix and the Lacolle River, Lower Canada are reinforced.  

Early in the war, the British launched a naval and land-based strategy of defence for the Upper Richelieu.  Since the Americans were gaining naval strength on Lake Champlain, Governor General Sir George Prevost ordered construction of a naval yard as well as renewal of the military post at Ile aux Noix in order to prevent an American naval attack on Lower Canada.  A large garrison was posted at this site and an advanced post was set up on Ash Island near the mouth of the Lacolle River.  In order to thwart a land-based assault, a 1782 blockhouse at Lacolle was rebuilt to defend a main road from New York State to Montreal, Canada's commercial centre. 

3 September 1812

Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) fighters attack the American town of Pigeon Roost, Indiana Territory, killing over 20 settlers.

 

Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Miami, Nishnabek (Potawatomi), Shawnee and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) fighters unsuccessfully besiege Fort Harrison, Indiana Territory.

5 September 1812

Siege of Fort Wayne, Indiana Territory. Nishnabek (Potawatomi) forces under Chiefs Five Medals (Wonongaseah) and Winnemac unsuccessfully invade the American post.

 

Siege of Fort Madison, in what would later become Iowa Territory. Forces led by Chief Black Hawk (Makataimeshekiakiak) fail to take the American post after a three day effort.

16 September 1812               

Skirmish near Toussaint Island in the St. Lawrence River. American troops attack British bateaux travelling up river to Prescott, Upper Canada.

16-18 September 1812

American raids on First Nations villages in Ohio and Indiana Territory.

18 September 1812

Lieutenant Alexander Macdonald arrives in Prince Edward Island to recruit Catholic Highlanders into the Glengarry Light Infantry. At least 32 Islanders respond to the call.

19 September 1812

Major-General George Stracey Smyth issues a letter of marque for the armed sloop Brunswicker to assist HMS Bream in patrolling the Bay of Fundy against privateers.

21 September  1812

 

American raid on Gananoque, Upper Canada.

Throughout the war, the British were concerned with the safety of their communications along the St. Lawrence River.  Their fears were confirmed when Gananoque, a small village and depot on the river, was attacked by Captain Benjamin Forsyth who commanded a company of regular riflemen and militia from Sackets Harbor, New York.  The ensuing alarm brought out about 100 local militiamen but after a short exchange of fire they quickly fled.  The Americans took a few defenders prisoner and seized some arms and ammunition.  The British responded to Forsyth's raid by constructing blockhouses and further fortifications at Gananoque and other sites along the St. Lawrence.

 

Raising of the 5th Battalion of the Lower Canada Select Embodied Militia.

25 September 1812

An expedition under Brevet Major Adam Muir, consisting of First Nations fighters, British regulars and Upper Canadian militiamen, advance on Fort Wayne, Indiana Territory. Muir retreats when confronted, near the rapids of the Maumee River, Ohio, by a larger force under American Brigadier General James Winchester.

28 September 1812

Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough receives orders to proceed to Lake Champlain and take command of the American vessels at that station.

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War of 1812 Timeline


Section 1: 1775 - November 1811
Section 2: January 1812 - June 1812
Section 3: July 1812 - September 1812
Section 4: October 1812 - December 1812
Section 5: January 1813 - March 1813
Section 6: April 1813 - June 1813
Section 7: July 1813 - September 1813
Section 8: October 1813 - December 1813
Section 9: January 1814 - March 1814
Section 10: April 1814 - June 1814
Section 11: July 1814 - December 1814
Section 12: January 1815 - 1871

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