He would have felt more uneasy still if he had known what was to happen when Captain Heald received his orders at Fort Dearborn (Chicago) on August 9. Hull had ordered Heald to evacuate the fort as soon as possible and rejoin headquarters. Heald had only sixty-six men, not nearly enough to overawe the surrounding Indians. News of the approaching evacuation spread quickly during the six days of preparation. The Americans failed to destroy the strong drink in the fort. The Indians got hold of it, became ungovernably drunk, and killed half of Heald’s men before they had gone a mile. The rest surrendered and were spared. Heald and his wife were then sent to Mackinaw, where Roberts treated them very kindly and sent them on to Pittsburg. The whole affair was one between Indians and Americans alone. But it was naturally used by the war party to inflame American feeling against all things British.
While Hull was writing to Fort Dearborn and hearing bad news from Michilimackinac, he was also getting more and more anxious about his own communications to the south. With no safe base in Canada, and no safe line of transport by water from Lake Erie to the village of Detroit, he decided to clear the road which ran north and south beside the Detroit river. But this was now no easy task for his undisciplined forces, as Colonel Procter was bent on blocking the same road by sending troops and Indians across the river. On August 5, the day Brock prorogued his parliament at York, Tecumseh ambushed Hull’s first detachment of two hundred men at Brownstown, eighteen miles south of Detroit. On the 7th Hull began to withdraw his forces from the Canadian side. On the 8th he ordered six hundred men to make a second attempt to clear the southern road. But on the 9th these men were met at Maguaga, only fourteen miles south of Detroit, by a mixed force of British-regulars, militia, and Indians. The superior numbers of the Americans enabled them to press the British back at first. But, on the 10th, when the British showed a firm front in a new position, the Americans retired discouraged. Next day Hull withdrew the last of his men from Canadian soil, exactly one month after they had first set foot upon it. The following day was spent in consulting his staff and trying to reorganize his now unruly militia. On the evening of the 13th he made his final effort to clear the one line left, by sending out four hundred picked men under his two best colonels, McArthur and Cass, who were ordered to make an inland detour through the woods.
That same night Brock stepped ashore at Amherstburg.
1812: BROCK AT DETROIT AND QUEENSTON HEIGHTS