1792 Fisher

Benjamin Fisher ( -1814) was a Captain of the Royal Engineers and made this report on the Fort while it was still in British hands.


Detroit: The principal services now executing at this place consist in such repairs as are more immediately necessary to the officers' and soldiers' barracks; erecting a flagstaff, removing 12 platforms, and repairing 5 others in Fort Lernoult.

With respect to such further services as may be necessary for the year 1793, it is not an easy matter for me to determine without knowing to what extent government may choose to go in re-establishing the post, or the importance in which it is viewed.

The decayed state of the buildings, and the insecurity of the defenses of the town from the ruinous condition of the blockhouses and picketing, has been already reported on by board of survey, and since more fully by Lieut. Pilkinton of the Royal Engineers. I shall therefore state generally the condition of the works and buildings in the fort, citadel, town and naval yard, accompanying the report with separate estimates, and submitting to better judgment the propriety of incurring so heavy an expense as appears requisite to reinstate the works and buildings of the post.

Fort Lernoult - The greater part of the interior slope of the ramparts requires fresh sodding, the magazine to be repaired, and the position of the entrance changed. The sheds for the fixed ammunition are bad, and from their proximity to other buildings and to the magazine, endanger the safety of the place in case of fire. A new one is, therefore, proposed. New drip-board and several new water-spouts are wanting to the barracks. The sallyport is quite rotten, unsafe, and injurious to the health of men occasionally confined there; the main drain very offensive; the fraize and picketing in the ditch much decayed; the ditch requires in many parts to be cleaned, and the counterscarp repaired. The grate, bridge and abattis are good. The magazine contiguous to the fort wants some trifling repairs for its security, for it is to be apprenhended from the whole tenor of the building that it will not be of long duration.

Citadel: The barracks in general require plastering, whitewashing and repairs to the hearths and chimneys; 32 new sashes are wanted, as also two additional ones for the hospital to give a freer communication of air. The barrack stores are mostly placed in the upper story of the men's barracks, as are also the artillery stores. The latter, from their great weight, not only render such a disposition very inconvenient, but endanger great the building, which is slight. The picketing of the citadel and woodyard is wholly decayed.

Town: The picketing on the water side is good, but from Fort Lernoult to the water on the east side is quite rotten, and in many places supported by props. The same on the west side, excepting the salient parts contiguous to the blockhouses. The blockhouses Nos. 1 and 2 are wholly decayed, and unsafe even to the removal of the cannon now in them. The water blockhouse is secure for the present, but not worthy of considerable repairs. West blockhouse may last some time with common repairs, but the one in the barrack yard, which at present serves as commissary and barrack master's stores, is quite decayed. These blockhouses are at present raised on upright frames 12 feet high. If they are to be reinstated I should recommend an alteration in the construction, and that their lower frame might be converted into a storeroom or useful apartment, which would add but little to the expense. The east platform by the river is on too slight a frame to be secure, and the west platform is wholly rotten. This latter is commanded by a bank, which is an accumulation of the rubbish from the town, and should be removed. The Indian store is so wholly decayed that any repairs would be injudicious. A frame building, 60 feet by 30, is recommended for the accommodation of Indian artillery and storekeeper general's stores. It may be eligibly placed in the citadel behind the barracks. The weighty stores being in the lower part, frame work will be sufficient. The artillery carriages require painting. Twenty traveling magazines are wanted. Ladders and sentry boxes much wanted.

Naval yard: Is surrounded only by a slight picketing, and without the protection of the garrison. The naval storehouse is so completely decayed that props are fixed on all sides to prevent its falling. The building at present consists of two stories, and is 85 feet by 22. The lower story is the store, and the upper one a working place for riggers. Both places are sufficiently large for the purpose to which they are applied, but as a fire in winter is necessary for the riggers, I thought it advisable to have a detached building for them, and have estimated accordingly. This building is, I apprehend, so essentially necessary for the fitting out and repair of the vessels on the lakes that it is necessary it should be early attended to. If it is judged expedient to reconstruct the naval storehouse in the way proposed, I should recommend a deviation in the line of picketing, advancing at the same time the blockhouse No. 2, for should it not inclose a more eligible spot for a dockyard than at present occupied, it at least offers a secure and convenient situation for the naval buildings.

I have offered little more than is necessary for the re-establishing the works and buildings of the post. How far the present circumstance and situation of it render such a measure advisable is not for me to determine.

From: THE FORT IN 1792. In The Centennial Celebration of the Evacuation of Detroit by the British. Detroit: The Committee, 1896: 151 - 155.

See Also:

Dictionary of Canadian Biography 6: 257.

Brown, Alan S. Governor Simcoe, Michigan and Canadian Defense. Michigan History 1983 67 (2): 18-23.