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 . British troops garrisoned the fort and built a new fortification, named Fort George (later renamed Fort Holmes ) at the highest point on the island to act as defense on the weak north side. Two years later American soldiers tried to recapture Fort Mackinac.
Invading from the north, they were met by British soldiers at the center of the island. The Americans were badly defeated in the only battle ever fought on Mackinac Island . Following the battle, British soldiers also captured two American vessels that were blockading the harbor.