Amherstburg - Fort Malden
It was from Fort Amherstburg that Britain launched its first major victory of the War of 1812. The American vessel Cuyahoga, filled with men and material as part of General William Hull’s North West Army, sailed close to the fort on July 2, 1812, unaware that war had been declared. Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas St. George, who commanded the fort, dispatched the provincial marines and Native American warriors under Lieutenant Frederick Rolette to take the American vessel.
The Cuyahoga was boarded and its crew seized, but the stunning prize lay below decks: all of General Hull’s private papers, including notes on his coming offensive against Amherstburg. With this valuable intelligence, the forces at Amherstburg prepared for their assault, and the information would be critical to the offensive of Major General Isaac Brock at Detroit. Hull’s 2500 men marched on Amherstburg, making short work of the Essex Militia before stopping. Concerned about his exposed supply lines and worried he did not have enough artillery to make a proper siege, Hull called off the advance. The British rallied with harassing action on Hull’s supply lines with great success.
With Hull abandoning his initiative, Amherstburg became the scene of the war planning of the two great captains of the war: Brock, and the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Safe within the walls of the fort, they sketched the plan to take Fort Detroit, the first decisive victory for the British in the war.
But doom lay in wait for Amherstburg as the Americans rebounded to a stunning victory in the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. With American control of the lake, the British position at Amherstburg was dicey and the order was given to burn the fort and retreat. The guns were spiked and the buildings set aflame. The Americans would rebuild on the ashes, calling it Fort Malden.