Detroit, 4 August 1812
Sir-I take the earliest opportunity to acquaint your excellence of the surrender of Michillimackinac, under my command to His Britannic majesty's forces under the command of Captain Charles Roberts, on the 17th ult-the particulars of which are as follows:
-On the 16th I was informed by the Indian interpreter, that he had discovered from an Indian that the several nations of Indians then at St. Joseph, (a British garrison, distance forty-five miles) intended to make an immediate attack on Michillimackinac.
I was inclined, from the coolness I had discovered in some of the principal chiefs of the Ottawa and Chippawa nations, who had but a few days before professed the greatest friendship for the United States, to place confidence in this report. I immediately called a meeting of the American gentlemen at that time on the island, in which it was thought proper to dispatch a confidential person to St. Joseph to watch the motions of the Indians. Capt. Daurman, of the Militia was thought the most suitable for this service. He embarked about sunset and met the British forces within ten or fifteen miles of the island, by whom he was made prisoner and put on his parole of honor. He was landed on the island at day-break, with positive directions to give me no intelligence whatever. He was also instructed to take the inhabitants of the village indiscriminately to a place on the west side of the island, where their persons and property should be protected by a British guard; but should they go to the fort, they would be subject to a general massacre by the savages, which would be inevitable if the garrison fired a gun. This information I received from Doctor Day, who was passing through the village when every person was flying for refuge to the enemy. Immediately on being informed of the approach of the enemy, I placed ammunition, &c. in the block-houses; ordered every gun charged, and made every preparation for action. About 9 o'clock I could discover that the enemy were in possession of the heights that commanded the fort, and one piece of their artillery directed to the most defenceless part of the garrison. The Indians at this time were to be seen in great numbers in the edge of the woods. At half past 11 o'clock, the enemy sent in a flag of truce, demanding a surrender of the fort and island to his Britannic Majesty's forces. This, Sir, was the first intimation I had of the declaration of war; I, however, had anticipated it and was as well prepared to meet such an event as I possibly could have been with the force under my command, amounting to fifty-seven effective men, including officers. Three American gentlemen, who were prisoners, were permitted to accompany the flag: from them I ascertained the strength of the enemy to be from nine hundred to one thousand strong, consisting of regular troops, Canadians and savages; that they had two pieces of artillery and were provided with ladders and ropes for the purpose of scaling the works if necessary. After I had obtained this information, I consulted my officers and also the American gentlemen present, who were very intelligent men; the result of which was, that it was impossible for the garrison to hold out against such a superior force. In this opinion I fully concurred, from a conviction that it was the only measure that could prevent a general massacre. The fort and garrison were accordingly surrendered.
The enclosed papers exhibit copies of the correspondence between the officer commanding the British forces and myself, and of the articles of capitulation. This subject involved questions of a peculiar nature; and I hope, Sir, that my demands and protests will meet the approbation of my government. I cannot allow this opportunity to escape without expressing my obligations to Dr. Day for the service he rendered me in conducting this correspondence.
In consequence of this unfortunate affair, I beg leave, Sir, to demand that a court of enquiry may be ordered to investigate all the facts connected with it; and I do further request, that the court may be speedily directed to express their opinion on the merits of the case.
PS - The following particulars relative to the British force were obtained after the capitulation, from a source that admits of no doubt: Regular troops 46 (Including 4 officers;) Canadian militia 260-Total 306.
SAVAGES - Sioux 56; Winnebagoes 48; Tallesawain (Folles Avoines) 39; Chippewas and Ottawas 572-savages 715, whites 306-Total 1021.
It may also be remarked, that one hunred and fifty Chippewas and Ottawas joined the British, two days after the capitulation.
Note: by Lieutenant Porter Hanks to Brigadier-General Hull.