On July 12, 1812, US forces under General Hull invaded Canada. The invasion was met with fierce opposition and American forces are forced to withdraw. By August 16, Hull surrendered Detroit to the British.
One of the main American goals of the war was to attack and capture Canada. The plan was to attack Canada in three places. That attack should have taken place simultaneously, but the American forces were not ready, so the western leg of that attack began first. General William Hull who had led Massachusetts's troops during the Revolutionary War led it. He was the governor of Michigan territory and as such the head of Michiganâ's territorial militia. Hull believed it was dangerous to enter Canada as long as the British controlled Lake Erie. Despite his concerns Hull went forward with his plan to march on Detroit and on to Canada.
Hull made his first mistake by sending the schooner Cuyahoga ahead on the Maumee River with some sick men and more importantly his correspondence. When the British captured it they became aware of Hulls plans.
On July 5th Hull and his soldiers arrived at Detroit. A week later Hull and his troops, (less two hundred Ohio militia member who refused to cross the border) enter Canada unopposed.
Hull headed south along the Detroit River. He attempted to lay siege to Fort Malden, but failed to capture it. At this point he began to fear that his supplies lines were too long. He sent a force of 150 to meet a supply train coming from Ohio. They were beaten back by Indian forces led by Tecumseh. Hull then sent a second larger force of 600 they to were attacked and forced back.
Meanwhile a worse setback was occurring on Mackinac Island. Lieutenant Porter Hanks commanded the Fort. His opponent was Captain Charles Robert who was the commander of the British fort of St Joseph. On July 16th he set off with 46 British regulars, 180 Canadian militia and 400 Indians to capture Fort Mackinac. Hanks had not known that a state of war existed between the United States and Great Britain. Faced with a much larger force then his own Hanks quickly surrendered to the superior British force.
As a result of the fall of Fort of Mackinac ordered the evacuation of Fort Dearborn. Captain Herald who marched out with 54 regulars, twelve militia nine women and 18 children commanded Fort Dearborn. A mile from the fort the column was attacked and surrendered. The Indians slaughtered two woman, 12 children and many of the soldiers.
Hull withdrew from Canadian territory and pleaded for reinforcements. That reinforcement coming from Ohio were unfortunately tied down on the Raisin River. The British brought to bear cannons on Fort Detroit and began an intermittent bombardment. After a British demand to surrender Hull agreed. The Northwest frontier was now unprotected. Thus ended the first American assault on Canada.