The prorogation which released Brock from his parliamentary duties on August 5 had been followed by eight days of the most strenuous military work, especially on the part of the little reinforcement which he was taking west to Amherstburg. The Upper Canada militiamen, drawn from the United Empire Loyalists and from the British-born, had responded with hearty goodwill, all the way from Glengarry to Niagara. But the population was so scattered and equipment so scarce that no attempt had been made to have whole battalions of ‘Select Embodied Militia’ ready for the beginning of the war, as in the more thickly peopled province of Lower Canada. The best that could be done was to embody the two flank companies—the Light and Grenadier companies—of the most urgently needed battalions. But as these companies contained all the picked men who were readiest for immediate service, and as the Americans were very slow in mobilizing their own still more unready army, Brock found that, for the time being, York could be left and Detroit attacked with nothing more than his handful of regulars, backed by the flank-company militiamen and the Provincial Marine.
Leaving York the very day he closed the House there, Brock sailed over to Burlington Bay, marched across the neck of the Niagara peninsula, and embarked at Long Point with every man the boats could carry—three hundred, all told, forty regulars of the 41st and two hundred and sixty flank-company militiamen. Then, for the next five days, he fought his way, inch by inch, along the north shore of Lake Erie against a persistent westerly storm. The news by the way was discouraging. Hull’s invasion had unsettled the Indians as far east as the Niagara peninsula, which the local militia were consequently afraid to leave defenceless. But once Brock reached the scene of action, his insight showed him what bold skill could do to turn the tide of feeling all along the western frontier.
It was getting on for one o’clock in the morning of August 14 when Lieutenant Rolette challenged Brock’s leading boat from aboard the Provincial Marine schooner General Hunter. As Brock stepped ashore he ordered all commanding officers to meet him within an hour. He then read Hull’s dispatches, which had been taken by Rolette with the captured schooner and by Tecumseh at Brownstown. By two o’clock all the principal officers and Indian chiefs had assembled, not as a council of war, but simply to tell Brock everything they knew. Only Tecumseh and Colonel Nichol, the quartermaster of the little army, thought that Detroit itself could be attacked with any prospect of success. Brock listened attentively; made up his mind; told his officers to get ready for immediate attack; asked Tecumseh to assemble all the Indians at noon; and dismissed the meeting at four. Brock and Tecumseh read each other at a glance; and Tecumseh, turning to the tribal chiefs, said simply, ‘This is a man,’ a commendation approved by them all with laconic, deep ‘Ho-ho’s!’