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Today in History: United States attacks Mackinac Island

Fort Mackinac Png

On Aug. 4, 1814, American troops attempted to reclaim Mackinac Island. That August day, hundreds of American troops stormed the north shore in hopes of securing the territory, only to be met by British, Canadian and Native American soldiers ready for battle.

The island had been captured by the British in 1812. In July of that year, a plan was devised in Detroit to reclaim Mackinac Island. Lieutenant Colonel George Croghan put together a fleet of over 750 soldiers. Seven U.S. Navy warships were sent to raid multiple areas in the Great Lakes. After fighting on St. Joseph Island and Sault Ste. Marie, the forces set their sights on Mackinac Island. Following the attacks, many of the soldiers fell ill, causing them to delay their landfall at Mackinac Island. This delay gave the British run island an advantage - time to prepare.

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On Aug. 4, when the fleet was well enough to attack, British forces were ready. Stationed on the northwest store, by 3 p.m. American forces were on the ground marching inland when they encountered a ridge dug in by British troops.

The troops exchanged long-range fire, and the British began to withdraw toward Fort Mackinac. Native American men were also posted in the woods. As the men retreated toward the fort, the battle fell into a stalemate. The Americans attempted to move forward through the woods, but the Native Americans ambushed the Americans. Major Andrew Holmes, who was leading the troops, died immediately in the attack.

By 4:30, Croghan ordered a general retreat, and the Americans were receded aboard ships soon after.

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Casualties reached 75 for the Americans in a battle that lasted a little over an hour. British and Native forces lost zero men, and the attack was determined unsuccessful.

Mackinac Island was returned to the United States in a treaty that ended the War of 1812.

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