British Military Presence in the Midwest, 1760-1786


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Presentation presented at the Company of Military Historians, Old Northwest Chapter and reprised at the NWTA Research Symposium on the America Revolution

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  • London Magazine, A Map of the Five great Lakes, with Par of Pensilvania, New York, Canada and Hudson’s Bay Territories & c.
  • Ft. Sandoske – Built by British in 1745 and then taken by French, burned in 1753? Ft. Sandusky – 1761 to 1763 1 officer and 15 men captured (all the men were killed) on May 16, 1763, fort burned
  • The Indians didn’t attack Ft. Chartres since the British weren’t there yet Eventually took Lt. Pittman from the 34th Foot to reach Chartres overland. He was followed by the 42nd coming down the Ohio from Pitt and then the rest of the 34th Foot coming up river from Louisiana.
  • Existing “customs document” relating to furs being shipped from Kaskaskia to London still exist in the Newberry LibraryBritish tried to remove the settlement at Vincennes several times
  • Ft. Michlimackinac – Major DePeyseter with 2 companies (Bn & Gren.)Detroit – 3 battalion companies under Cpt. LernoultFt. Gage – Bn & LI Coy under Cpt. LordNiagara – 3 1/2 bn companies under Lt. Col. CaldwellFt. eire – ½ Bn Coy. Under Lt. Samuel WilloeFt. Oswegatchie – LI Coy, under Cpt. Geo. Forster
  • (CW currently presenting on this as a piece of their Revolutionary City Programs) Bill Potter has done some review of the POWs and at least a couple of them did return to the 8th Foot, but the exact circumstances are not entirely clear.
  • British authorities, during the spring of 1780, prepared to carry out a comprehensive plan for the recapture of the Illinois Country and to attack St. Louis, New Orleans, and other Spanish posts on the Mississippi River. Spain, allied with France, had joined the war against Great Britain in 1779, and had rapidly gained control over British positions along the Mississippi in that year. Four simultaneous movements were planned. Capt. Henry Bird, with a force from Detroit, was directed to "amuse" George Rogers Clark at the Falls of the Ohio. General John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll, from Pensacola, after taking New Orleans was to proceed up the Mississippi to Natchez where he was to be joined by a third force that descended the Illinois River and captured St. Louis. Capt. Charles de Langlade was to lead the force down the Illinois, which was to split up and also monitor Vincennes.No part of the plan proved successful. Campbell was preoccupied with the threat posed by Bernardo de Gálvez, the governor of Spanish Louisiana, who captured Mobile in March 1780 (and then also captured Pensacola in 1781). The expedition against St. Louis was repulsed. Langlade withdrew his remaining forces when Illinois cavalry approached.
  • Under Charles Langlade and/or Emmanuel Hess – former officer of the 60th FootIncluded 00 Santee sout – Chief WabashaChippewas under Chief MatchekewisLarge number of Winnebagoes and Menominees250 Sauk and Fox“1/2 dozen other tribes were represented.
  • Langalade came from Chicago
  • Ft. Madison, IA (1808 – 1813)Ft. Snelling, MN (1819 – 1956) Maintain Ft. Mackinaw and Ft. Niagara until WW2
  • Illinois country Troops report to Gage until 1775, then to Canada – Haldimand and Carleton
  • British Military Presence in the Midwest, 1760-1786

    3. 3. THE MIDWEST IN 1760Ft. ChartresFt. OuiatenonFt. St. JosephFt. DetroitFt. MichlimackinacFt. NiagaraFt. LigonierFt. MiamiVincennesFt. Sandoske
    4. 4. INDIAN ATTACKSIN 1763
    5. 5. AFTERMATH OF PONTIAC’S REBELLION After the IndianUprisings of 1763 &1764, the Britishconsolidated to a fewlarger posts Exceptions were thesingle companyposts at Kaskaskiaand Cahokia in theAmerican Bottom
    6. 6. POSTS ABANDONED IN 1764/1765 Fort Le Boeuf Fort Presque’ Isle Fort St. Joseph Fort Ligonier Fort Venago Fort Miami Fort Sandusky Fort OuiatenonPOSTS ABANDONED IN 1772 Cahokia Fort Chartres Fort PittPOSTS ABANDONED IN 1776 Fort Gage (Kaskaskia)
    7. 7. FT. CHARTRES (1765-1772) RECONSTRUCTED
    9. 9. ILLINOIS COUNTRY POLICIES No civil government in the Old Northwest Military Court at Ft. Chartres Parliament would like to abandon the area, butthe King refuses Quebec Act allowed for the development ofcivil government & protected the CatholicChurch The entire Illinois Country was formally includedwithin the Province of Quebec Trade, mostly exports of fur, were to be sentdown river to New Orleans and then to
    10. 10. 1774 June - Quebec Act incorporated settlementsalong the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers intothe Province of Quebec Ft. Sackville was [re]built by the British atVincennes, but was not garrisoned Replacement of the palisade was completedat Ft. Gage
    11. 11. FORT GAGE ON THE MAP (1772)
    12. 12. APRIL 1775 – BRITISH POSTSFort GageFort MichlimackinacDetroitFort NiagaraFort PittRoyal Irish2 Coys.King’s Regt.2 CoysKing’s Regt.3 CoysKing’s Regt.3 1/2 CoysRoyal Irish4 menFt. OswegatchieKing’s Regt.1 CoyFt. Erie
    13. 13. 1775 Dr. John Conolly hatched a plan to order Cpt.Lord’s Garrison from Kaskaskia to come upriver and take Virginia back with the help ofbackwood Loyalists and Indians Conolly was captured near Ft. Pitt and theplan never reached the troops in the IllinoisCountry.
    14. 14. 1776 Troops were ordered from Illinois to beconcentrated at Detroit in anticipation of aCongressional attack (May –June). A former French officer was appointedgovernor in Illinois, Pierre de Rochebleve Troops on the Great Lakes remained inplace; troops from Illinois were drafted intothe 8th (Kings) Foot in July 1776 andscattered between at least Mackinac andDetroit It does appear that that troops had intendedto return to Kaskaskia and some familiesremained in Illinois for years
    15. 15. 1777 Extremely quiet on the Western Frontier. British were anticipating an attack on Detroitthat never materialized. Fighting in Kentucky (Boonesborough)between settlers and Shawnee underBlackfish, but no direct British involvement.Daniel Boone was wounded in a skirmish.
    16. 16. 1778 George Rogers Clark captured Kaskaskiawithout resistance from the French habitantson July 4, 1778 Fr. Gibault helped prepare the way for theVirginians British troops were sent to from Detroit toVincennes to fortify the village againstCongressional forces
    17. 17. 1779 Troops at Vincennes are surrendered in February1779 – transported to Williamsburg – treated likecriminals and not as POWs Remaining troops at Detroit and Mackinaw remainstationary Spain enters the Revolution as an Ally of France andCongress British under Bird besiege Ft. Laurens, Ohio inFebruary 1779; Lift siege by the end of the month;Congressional forces withdraw to Ft. Pitt by August1779
    18. 18. FT. LAURENS, OHIO On February 22, 1779, Captain Henry Bird, 8th Foot, with ahandful of British soldiers and a couple hundred Wyandot,Mingo, Munsee, and Delaware warriors laid siege to the fort.The siege continued until mid-March, and the men insidethe fort reportedly were reduced to making a stew of boiledmoccasins. British forces were also weakened by the long siege andlifted the siege on March 20, 1779.
    19. 19. FT. LAURENS AFTERMATH Relief forces from Fort Pitt arrived three daysafter the British lifted the siege on March 23,1779 leaving a force of 106 men behindunder the command of Major FredrickVernon. Colonel Daniel Brodhead replaced McIntoshas commander at Fort Pitt and felt the fortwas inadequate for mounting an attack onDetroit, so the fort was abandoned on August2, 1779.
    20. 20. BRITISH PLAN TO RECAPTURE THE ILLINOISCOUNTRY AND ELIMINATE THE SPANISH THREATBritish Comprehensive Plan of 1780 for Illinois Country Attack Spanish posts at St. Louis, New Orleans andNatchez Attack Virginia Forces at Cahokia and Kaskaskia Forces from Pensacola to attack New Orleans Instead Spanish forces took Mobile in 1780 andPensacola in 1781 Troops at Cahokia and St. Louis were stymied bySpanish
    21. 21. 1780 Prairie du Chien was the gathering point forBritish forces Plan to attack both St. Louis and Cahokia Troops were gathered on May 2, 1780 Travelled downriver to Rock Island About 250 Sauk & Fox joined here Continued to St. Louis
    22. 22. MAY 26, 1780Attack on St. Louis in Missouri State Capital
    23. 23. CahokiaSt. LouisPrairie du ChienFt. Michlimackinac
    24. 24. 1781 Troops at Michlimackinac moved into thestraights on Mackinaw Island to be more wellprotected (the post will remain for nearly 150years); buildings were moved over the ice;oldest stone buildings remain from the Britishoccupation Detachment sent to Duluth, MN (GrandPortage) to oversee the fur traders atChippewa village
    25. 25. FT. MACKINAC1780 Officers’ QuartersBritish Era Well
    26. 26. CRAWFORD EXPEDITION, 1782
    27. 27. FEBRUARY 12, 1781 The Spanish took Fort St. Joseph by surpriseon 12 February 1781. Captain Pouré had theSpanish colors raised and claimed Fort St.Joseph and the St. Joseph River for Spain.They plundered the fort; departing the nextday. The Spanish returned to in St. Louis on6 March, where Pouré delivered the Britishflag to the Spanish governor.
    28. 28. SANDUSKY OR BATTLE ISLAND, JUNE 4, 1782A mounted company of Butler’s Rangers,Detroit militia and Indians attacked a columnof 500 Pennsylvania militia outside ofSandusky
    29. 29. BATTLE OF THE OLENTANGY, JUNE 6, 1782
    30. 30. AUGUST 8, 1782 Battle of Piqua (near Springfield, OH) G. R. Clark led over 1000 militia to burn fiveShawnee villages along the Little Miami. Also burning the trading post of PeterLoramie, a Loyalist
    31. 31. AUGUST 15-17, 1782 Attack on Bryan Station At Bryan Station, founded in 1775-1776 Near present day - Lexington, KY British militia and Shawnee warriorsbesieged the settlement in August 1782 Cpt. Wm. Caldwell and Simon Girty led theBritish The siege was lifted when Kentucky militiawere reported in the area
    32. 32. AUGUST 19, 1782 Battle of Blue Licks near present MountOlivet, Kentucky On a hill next to the Licking River in what isnow Robertson County, a force of about 50British militia and 300 Shawnee ambushedand routed 182 Kentucky militia . It was theworst defeat for the Kentuckians during thewar.
    33. 33.  Troops remained in place at Mackinac andDetroit & Niagara17831784-1796 British Troops remained in place atMackinac, Detroit & Niagara. The JayTreaty of 1796 actually led to the removalof British Troops from the Old Northwest.They would return in 1812.
    34. 34. IMPACT OF THE REGULARS Through 1776, the British are nearly entirelyreliant on the small forces of regulars togarrison and keep the peace in the IllinoisCountry. After 1778, with the entry of France andSpain into the war, regulars are only presentin token levels. Two regulars accompaniedthe forces attacking St. Louis and Cahokiafor instance.
    35. 35. BRITISH FOCUS 1763 to 1770 – Establish Control of the OhioValley and Great Lakes (with regulars) 1770-1771 – Prepare for War with Spain 1772-1775 – Keep the peace with Indians 1775-1779 – Protect Detroit (and GreatLakes) 1780-1782 – Regain control ofMississippi/Ohio Valley (with allies) DefeatSpain 1783-1796 – Retain commercial control of
    36. 36. BRITISH REGIMENTS IN THE MIDWEST 8th (King’s) Foot – Individuals on Mississippi1780 18th (Royal Irish) Foot – Illinois garrison,1768 to 1776 34th Foot – reached Ft. Chartres fromLouisiana in 1765 to 1768 42nd Foot – reached Ft. Chartres by Ohio in1765 Small detachment of Royal Artillery
    37. 37. POST 1796 British regulars finally abandon Detroit,Mackinaw and Niagara in 1796 British continue to try to control Indians fromthe north side of the Great Lakes Americans build several posts specifically todeal with British influence War of 1812 sees the final effort of Britishtroops to control Old Northwest
    38. 38. DOCUMENTARY SOURCES ON THE TROOPS INTHE MIDWEST Haldimand Papers (Newberry Library) Papers of the Continental Congress U of Michigan Gage Papers (good through 1775) Amherst Papers NA UK Archives Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester) Papers WO 4 / 27 / 28 / 71 Draper Manuscripts (includes GR ClarkPapers)
    39. 39. QUESTIONS