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.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography 6: 257.
Brown, Alan S. Governor Simcoe, Michigan and Canadian Defense. Michigan History 1983 67 (2): 18-23.