August 16

This Day in History

General Interest

Aug 16, 1812:

Detroit surrenders without a fight

During the War of 1812, American General William Hull surrenders Fort Detroit and his army to the British without a fight. Hull, a 59-year-old veteran of the American Revolution, had lost hope of defending the settlement after seeing the large English and Indian force gathering outside Detroit's walls. The general was also preoccupied with the presence of his daughter and grandchildren inside the fort.

Of Hull's 2,000-man army, most were militiamen, and British General Isaac Brock allowed them to return to their homes on the frontier. The regular U.S. Army troops were taken as prisoners to Canada. With the capture of Fort Detroit, Michigan Territory was declared a part of Great Britain and Shawnee chief Tecumseh was able to increase his raids against American positions in the frontier area. Hull's surrender was a severe blow to American morale. In September 1813, U.S. General William Henry Harrison, the future president, recaptured Detroit.

In 1814, William Hull was court-martialed for cowardice and neglect of duty in surrendering the fort, and sentenced to die. Because of his service in the revolution, however, President James Madison remitted the sentence.

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