Fort Mackinac

September 14, 2013

Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, MI

Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, MI, photo by Wrong Main

Every once and a while I come across something about Michigan that I can’t believe I haven’t featured. Here’s the latest…

Wikipedia’s comprehensive entry on Fort Mackinac explains that the first fort on the Straits of Mackinac was Fort Du Buade. Built by the French around 1690 near the St. Ignace Mission, Du Bade was closed in 1697. In 1715 the French constructed Fort Michilimackinac on the south side of the Straits where Mackinaw City is today. Michilimackinac became the hub of the upper Great Lakes fur trade and a French outpost until 1761 when British soldiers took control after the French and Indian War.

The Mackinac State Historic Parks history of Fort Mackinac continues:

By 1776 the American Revolution was underway. With the successes of George Rogers Clark in capturing British posts in the south, and American forces moving northward, the British grew anxious that Fort Michilimackinac , a wooden fort built on the beach, was vulnerable. Consequently, British Commandant Patrick Sinclair chose to relocate the fort to Mackinac Island where the high limestone cliffs and good harbor provided a more defensible location. Between 1779 and 1781 many buildings were taken apart on the mainland and reassembled on the island. What was not moved was burned. The civilian community was built around the bay below the fort. One of the first new buildings to be built on the island was the Officers’ Stone Quarters, the oldest building in the State of Michigan today.

The fort and island became United States territory as a result of the American victory in the Revolution. However, it took thirteen years for American troops to arrive and finally take control of the fort from the British. The latter were reluctant to leave the island, as British merchants continued to dominate fur trading, even in American territory. After leaving Fort Mackinac in 1796, the British went to St. Joseph’s Island, at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River and established Fort St. Joseph .

War broke out between the United States and Great Britain in the summer of 1812. Under the cover of darkness, a 300-man force of British soldiers and Native American allies embarked from Fort St. Joseph and landed on the north shore of Mackinac Island . They dragged their cannon to the high ground behind the fort, took positions in the woods and prepared to attack. American soldiers, about 30, were completely surprised and outnumbered by the British invasion. They quickly surrendered without a fight following a single warning shot by the British. This was the first land engagement of the War of 1812 in the United States .

You can read on to learn how the Americans ultimately got the fort back and how became a center of the Great Lakes fishing industry, its time as a Civil War prison, and the hub of the second national park in the U.S., Mackinac National Park. If you want to visit – bear in mind they close for the season October 13th!

Bill took this shot October 1, 1982 on Plustek OpticFilm 7600. Check it out background big, see more in his slideshow and definitely click to view his photo of the Mackinac Bridge taken on the same day.

More Mackinac on Michigan in Pictures, and get a little bit more about Michigan’s role in the War of 1812 in The Battle of Lake Erie.

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