Fort Dearborn - Chicago
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Fort Dearborn - Chicago

On July 29, 1812, General William Hull received news of the fall of Fort Mackinac and immediately sent orders to Captain Nathan Heald to evacuate Fort Dearborn, fearing that it could no longer be adequately supplied with provisions. General Hull ordered Heald to destroy all the arms and ammunition and give the remaining goods to friendly Indians in the hope of attaining an escort to Fort Wayne.

Hull also sent a copy of these orders to Fort Wayne with additional instructions to provide Heald with all the information, advice and assistance within their power. In the following days the sub-Indian agent at Fort Wayne, Captain William Wells, assembled a group of about 30 Miami Indians. They traveled to Fort Dearborn to provide an escort to the evacuees. Wells arrived at Fort Dearborn on August 12 and on August 14 Captain Heald held a council with the Potawatomi leaders to inform them of his intention to evacuate the fort. The Indians believed that Heald told them that he would distribute the fire-arms, ammunition, provisions and whiskey amongst them, and that, if they would send a band of Potawatomis to escort them safely to Fort Wayne, he would pay them a large sum of money. However, Heald ordered all the surplus arms, ammunition and liquor destroyed.

On August 15 the defence force left Fort Dearborn with the intention of marching to Fort Wayne. Captain Wells led the group with some of the Miami Indian escorts, while the rest of the Miamis were positioned at the rear. A few miles south of Fort Dearborn a band of Potawatomi warriors ambushed the garrison. Heald reported that, upon discovering that the Indians were preparing to ambush from behind a dune, the company marched to the top of the dune, fired off a round, and charged at the Indians. The battle lasted about 15 minutes, after which Healm and the surviving soldiers withdrew to an area of elevated ground in the prairie. They then surrendered to the Indians who took them as prisoners to their camp near Fort Dearborn.

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