“Lieutenant Hanks? Sorry to disturb.”
Flédong was indeed sorry, for he knew Hanks, like the rest of his garrison, was down with griping guts. The culprit was a cask of Royal Navy salt beef purchased from a salvage brig that had fished it up from the wreck of HMS Speedy. The men had been living on biscuit and fish since the Indians all vanished many months before, so they fell upon the meat with a fanatic zeal that soon betrayed them with cramp and fever.
But this was an emergency. A British captain with a company of soldiers and twoscore Indians had arrived under a flag of truce to discuss terms shortly after a cannonball was fired into into the fort’s wall.
Hanks looked ghastly as he stepped onto the ramparts. “But we are not at war, sir,” he said to the captain.
“Your information is outdated,” replied the officer. “And I cannot answer for what these Indians will do now that they are within your walls.”
The Siege of Fort of Mackinac was one of the first engagements of the War of 1812. The British commander in Upper Canada, Major General Isaac Brock, learned of the outbreak of the war and sent a canoe to the commander of the British Army post at St. Joseph Island, Captain Charles Roberts, with orders to immediately capture Mackinac to secure the trade route of the upper peninsula.
Having learned that the Americans at Mackinac were unaware of the outbreak of war, Robert’s force dragged a 6-pounder cannon through the woods to a ridge above the fort and fired a single round before sending a message under a flag of truce to demand the surrender of the fort.
Fearing a massacre by the Natives, Mackinac commander Lieutenant Hanks capitulated without a fight.