Early in the morning of July 17, 1812, the residents of Mackinac Island awoke to pounding on their doors. A group of fellow citizens, led by local militia captain Michael Dousman, told everyone that war had been declared and, unbeknownst to the 61-man US garrison in Fort Mackinac, 600 British soldiers, Canadian voyageurs, and Indian warriors had landed on the island. The British had detained Dousman the day before and, after he promised not to warn the fort, their commander allowed him to gather the villagers in the town distillery, where they could be protected by a guard of British soldiers. The citizens followed his advice, and the town below Fort Mackinac was soon deserted.
Michilimackinac on Lake Huron was dedicated to the British commander-in-chief in Canada, Sir George Prevost.
Lieutenant Porter Hanks and his men were taken completely by surprise. They manned their guns but the situation was grim. The British cannon could fire into Fort Mackinac, the garrison was outnumbered 10 to 1, and the fort’s water supply was outside the walls. Captain Roberts further hinted that he might not be able to control his Indian allies once fighting began. Hanks had no choice but to surrender. The British would hold the place for the next three years.
This detail of the 1817 Eveleth map focuses on Fort Mackinac, the town, and harbor. The British placed their cannon on the first or second rise in the ground behind the fort.